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World War II Propaganda Posters that inspired the Americans to Get Involved in the War Efforts

During the Second World War, Propaganda posters were used to influence the public about the war and how they could contribute to the war efforts. The U.S. government used more than posters to promote its agenda. Additionally, they utilized Hollywood movies, radio shows, advertisements, cartoons, and music. However, posters were more common than the other methods of propaganda dissemination. They could be made in large quantities and distributed over a wide area, whereas a movie could only be seen by those who are going to the theatre. Additionally, posters could be seen for a more extended period than radio programs. Radio campaigns could only be heard during the purchased time slots, but posters would remain on walls until the elements or people removed them or a new one was pasted over them.

The Office of War Information

The Office of War Information (OWI) was responsible for releasing all American propaganda from the time it was formed until the end of World War II. In order to simplify the distribution of information about the war to the public, Franklin D. Roosevelt created the agency with Executive Order 9182 on 13 June 1942. Having a central agency that can control the information reaching the civilian populace will help gain more support from the civilian populace. A variety of topics were addressed in the OWI posters, including buying war bonds, careless talk, recruiting, increasing production, conserving resources, and others. The war agencies launched a variety of campaigns with different themes. The posters needed to remind people daily of the campaigns if the promotions were to be successful. The patriotic posters often depicted masculine strength. It illustrated America’s ability to channel its formidable strength into the war effort through pictures of powerful men and mighty machines.

Women in Propaganda Posters

During wartime, women were needed in the military, the defense industries, and even civilian service. Even though women entered the workforce in more significant numbers during the 20th century, publicity campaigns targeted women who had never held a job before. The poster and film images glorified and glamorized women’s roles in the workplace and promoted the idea that women should not forsake their femininity. Women were depicted as attractive, confident, and determined to do their part to win the war regardless of whether they fulfilled their duties at home, in factories, in offices, or the military. Several famous artists added their own flair to the poster’s art while keeping the message intact with each drive.

The distribution of Propaganda Posters

The OWI developed a plan on where and how to display it. The organization created a handbook about the entire process and distributed it to the people responsible for placing the posters throughout the section of the town or city. They were commonly seen in buses, trains, stores, newspapers, magazines, and almost everywhere. Propaganda posters were hanging on nearly every government building, such as museums, post offices, schools, railroad stations, restaurants, stores, and sometimes the sides of buildings. Distribution took place both on a national and local level. The posters were distributed to government buildings. However, this distribution method did not spread the message to many American citizens. So the government involved citizens in placing the posters in locations they frequently visited. A poster committee distributed posters within each community’s Defense Council. Committee members scouted out the best spots to put the posters. The OWI handbook advised looking at factors such as the number of people who would see the posters in the location, whether the area was practical for posting, obtaining the owner’s permission, and the size of the poster that could be displayed.

The OWI was concerned about the posters’ placement because the public needed to see their messages. The OWI, committee members, and other groups that helped distribute posters focused on high-traffic areas because visibility was the most crucial factor.The OWI aimed to reach every citizen of the United States.

Layout and Design of the Posters

Messages on posters implied that every citizen needed to contribute more to wartime society. The posters had to meet specific criteria. The artist who designed the poster had to know what the government officials wanted on each poster. All must be emotionally appealing and not abstract. The viewer must feel something when looking at the image that appeals to emotions. The government used photographic detail because it was concerned with the public’s inability to understand an abstract image and its relation to the message. This way, the image could be understood by every viewer.

#1 Every Canadian Must Fight Poster by Philip Surrey

Every Canadian Must Fight Poster by Philip Surrey

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#2 War propaganda poster

War propaganda poster

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#3 Together We Win Labor-Management Poster

Together We Win Labor-Management Poster

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#4 She’s a WOW Poster by Adolph Treidler

She's a WOW Poster by Adolph Treidler

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#5 Stop Him and the Job’s Done Poster by Harry Morse.

Stop Him and the Job's Done Poster by Harry Morse.

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#6 Let’s Hit ‘Em with Everything We’ve Got! Don’t Wait – Chose the Navy Poster by McClelland Barclay

Let's Hit 'Em with Everything We've Got! Don't Wait - Chose the Navy Poster by McClelland Barclay

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#7 Our Good Earth…Keep it Ours War Bonds Poster by John Steuart Curry

Our Good Earth...Keep it Ours War Bonds Poster by John Steuart Curry

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#8 Production – America’s Answer! Poster by Jean Carlu.

Production - America's Answer! Poster by Jean Carlu.

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#9 Buy War Bonds Poster by Lawrence Beall Smith.

Buy War Bonds Poster by Lawrence Beall Smith.

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#10 Fly For Her Liberty and Yours Poster by Howard Chandler Christy.

Fly For Her Liberty and Yours Poster by Howard Chandler Christy.

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#11 Do Your Part Poster by Dan V. Smith and Albro F. Downe.

Do Your Part Poster by Dan V. Smith and Albro F. Downe.

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#12 Give ‘Em Both Barrels Poster by Jean Carlu.

Give 'Em Both Barrels Poster by Jean Carlu.

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#13 Keep ’em Rolling! Poster by Leo Lionni.

Keep 'em Rolling! Poster by Leo Lionni.

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#14 Never was so much owed by so many to so few

Never was so much owed by so many to so few

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#15 Your Victory Garden Poster.

Your Victory Garden Poster.

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#16 Produce for Your Navy – Victory Begins at Home! Poster by John Whitcomb.

Produce for Your Navy - Victory Begins at Home! Poster by John Whitcomb.

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#17 Award For Careless Talk Poster.

Award For Careless Talk Poster.

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#18 Oh, Yeah? World War II Poster by MacLean

Oh, Yeah? World War II Poster by MacLean

This 1941 poster by MacLean was the first poster released by the U.S. Government in its propaganda war against the Axis powers.

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#19 Safety Security Loose Talk, 1942

Safety Security Loose Talk, 1942

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#20 Anti-Japanese propaganda poster ‘This is the enemy’ 1942.

Anti-Japanese propaganda poster 'This is the enemy' 1942.

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#21 World war Two British propaganda poster.

World war Two British propaganda poster.

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#22 American propaganda poster promoting canned food.

American propaganda poster promoting canned food.

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#23 Recruitment poster for Home guard; world war two 1940.

Recruitment poster for Home guard; world war two 1940.

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#24 Recruitment poster for aircraft manufacturing.

Recruitment poster for aircraft manufacturing.

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#25 World War Two American propaganda poster US Army. ‘United We are Strong’ allies against Japan, Germany and Italy 1943.

World War Two American propaganda poster US Army. 'United We are Strong' allies against Japan, Germany and Italy 1943.

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#26 Propaganda poster encouraging people to not reveal secrets

Propaganda poster encouraging people to not reveal secrets

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#27 French colour propaganda poster for the United Nations

French colour propaganda poster for the United Nations

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#28 A poster reads “Stamp ’em Out!”, and features the faces of Mussolini, Hitler, and Tojo. It advertises the sale of U.S. bonds and stamps.

A poster reads "Stamp 'em Out!", and features the faces of Mussolini, Hitler, and Tojo. It advertises the sale of U.S. bonds and stamps.

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#29 Nazi propaganda poster after the allied landing in Italy, 1944, France, World War II, Private collection.

Nazi propaganda poster after the allied landing in Italy, 1944, France, World War II, Private collection.

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#30 Uncle Sam United States Army Recruiting Poster originally from WWI but used in WWII

Uncle Sam United States Army Recruiting Poster originally from WWI but used in WWII

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#31 Pack It Right to Reach the Fight! Poster by John Falter

Pack It Right to Reach the Fight! Poster by John Falter

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#32 A World War II color poster depicting “Rosie the Riveter” encourages American women to show their strength and go to work for the war effort.

A World War II color poster depicting "Rosie the Riveter" encourages American women to show their strength and go to work for the war effort.

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#33 Propaganda poster of the Vichy France in favour of the STO, 1943

Propaganda poster of the Vichy France in favour of the STO, 1943

Second world war : "Thanks to those who left for Germany 250,000 prisoners become free workers" Propaganda poster (June 1943) of the Vichy France in favour of the STO (Compulsory Work Service).

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#34 Vintage illustration of Allegiance and Silence War Poster, 1940s.

Vintage illustration of Allegiance and Silence War Poster, 1940s.

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#35 A World War II poster urges women to find a “war job” to join in the war effort.

A World War II poster urges women to find a "war job" to join in the war effort.

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#36 Buy a Share in America, United States Defense Bonds

Buy a Share in America, United States Defense Bonds

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#37 4 hands representing the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and liberated France pull apart and shatter a swastika.

4 hands representing the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and liberated France pull apart and shatter a swastika.

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#38 This is the Enemy Poster by Barbara Marks

This is the Enemy Poster by Barbara Marks

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#39 Speed Them Back, Join the WAAC Poster

Speed Them Back, Join the WAAC Poster

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#40 We’ve Still Got a Big Job to Do Poster by Howard Scott.

We've Still Got a Big Job to Do Poster by Howard Scott.

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#41 Sailor Beware! Poster by John Falter

Sailor Beware! Poster by John Falter

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#42 Doing All You Can, Brother?” War Bonds Poster by Robert Sloan

Doing All You Can, Brother?" War Bonds Poster by Robert Sloan

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#43 Fur Eine Glucklichere Welt … U.S. War Bonds Poster

Fur Eine Glucklichere Welt ... U.S. War Bonds Poster

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#44 Keep ’em Rolling! Poster by Leo Lionni

Keep 'em Rolling! Poster by Leo Lionni

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#45 Buy War Bonds Poster.

Buy War Bonds Poster.

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#46 Pvt. Joe Louis Says Poster

Pvt. Joe Louis Says Poster

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#47 Of Course I Can! War Production Poster by Dick Williams

Of Course I Can! War Production Poster by Dick Williams

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#48 Keep Us Flying! Buy War Bonds Tuskeegee Airmen Poster.

Keep Us Flying! Buy War Bonds Tuskeegee Airmen Poster.

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#49 Women Work for Victory poster, 1945

Women Work for Victory poster, 1945

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#50 She’s a WOW Poster by Adolph Treidler

She's a WOW Poster by Adolph Treidler

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#51 Loose Lips Might Sink Ships Poster

Loose Lips Might Sink Ships Poster

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#52 United We Are Strong Allied War Poster

United We Are Strong Allied War Poster

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#53 World War Two American propaganda poster US Army. ‘Don’t talk Yourselves to Death’ 1943.

World War Two American propaganda poster US Army. 'Don't talk Yourselves to Death' 1943.

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#54 World war Two British propaganda poster for the Royal Air Force. Winston Churchill’s quote ‘never was so much owed’ appears at the top of the poster.

World war Two British propaganda poster for the Royal Air Force. Winston Churchill's quote 'never was so much owed' appears at the top of the poster.

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#55 World War Two American propaganda poster US Army 1942. ‘don’t be Hitler’s stooge- Shut Up!!’.

World War Two American propaganda poster US Army 1942. 'don't be Hitler's stooge- Shut Up!!'.

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#56 World War Two American propaganda poster US Army 1942. ‘ Together we Win’. (

World War Two American propaganda poster US Army 1942. ' Together we Win'. (

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#57 “In the Service They’re Deserters” War Effort Poster

"In the Service They're Deserters" War Effort Poster

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#58 Save your Can/ Help Pass the Ammunition by McClelland Barclay.

Save your Can/ Help Pass the Ammunition by McClelland Barclay.

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#59 World War Two color poster showing a Filipino soldier in a torn, bloody uniform, fighting amid flames.

World War Two color poster showing a Filipino soldier in a torn, bloody uniform, fighting amid flames.

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#60 A World War II color poster for the Civil Air Patrol of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense.

A World War II color poster for the Civil Air Patrol of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense.

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#61 A World War II poster encourages national security during the war.

A World War II poster encourages national security during the war.

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#62 Accident or Sabotage? Prevent it by Vigilance Poster

Accident or Sabotage? Prevent it by Vigilance Poster

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#63 Jap…You’re Next! War Bonds Poster by James Flagg Montgomery

Jap...You're Next! War Bonds Poster by James Flagg Montgomery

A World War II color poster shows Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeve and holding a large wrench.

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#64 World War II War Effort Poster

World War II War Effort Poster

A World War II color poster shows a mother and child with the shadow of a swastika over them.

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#65 World War Two color poster encouraging collection of scrap metal by civilians.

World War Two color poster encouraging collection of scrap metal by civilians.

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#66 A 1943 World War II color poster encourages the war effort to get lumber for building PT boats.

A 1943 World War II color poster encourages the war effort to get lumber for building PT boats.

The poster shows several PT boats in battle on fire, and caption reads: "Give us LUMBER for more PT's".

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#67 A World War II color poster encourages national war security.

A World War II color poster encourages national war security.

It depicts a wide-eyed soldier with a large, star sleeved hand covering his mouth. The caption reads: "Silence means security", 1944.

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#68 World War II Nurse Recruiting Poster by Jon Whitcomb.

World War II Nurse Recruiting Poster by Jon Whitcomb.

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#69 World War II Poster Recruiting Women to Work

World War II Poster Recruiting Women to Work

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#70 Share the deeds of Victory, Join the Waves, WWII poster.

Share the deeds of Victory, Join the Waves, WWII poster.

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#71 I’m Proud of you folks too, WWII Poster.

I'm Proud of you folks too, WWII Poster.

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#72 Americans Will Always Fight for Liberty Poster by Bernard Perlin

Americans Will Always Fight for Liberty Poster by Bernard Perlin

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#73 Production Means Life or Death Poster by C. Chickering

Production Means Life or Death Poster by C. Chickering

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#74 Put Your Muscle on a War Basis! Poster

Put Your Muscle on a War Basis! Poster

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#75 You’re Darn Tootin’ We’ll Keep ‘Em Shootin’ Poster by Joseph Binder.

You're Darn Tootin' We'll Keep 'Em Shootin' Poster by Joseph Binder.

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#76 Join the WAAC Recruitment Poster.

Join the WAAC Recruitment Poster.

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#77 Keep It Under Your Stetson Poster.

Keep It Under Your Stetson Poster.

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#78 Pour It On! Poster by Garrett Price.

Pour It On! Poster by Garrett Price.

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#79 Teamwork Wins Poster by C.P. Benton.

Teamwork Wins Poster by C.P. Benton.

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#80 Your Metal Is on the Attack, Keep It Coming! Poster by Amos Sewell.

Your Metal Is on the Attack, Keep It Coming! Poster by Amos Sewell.

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#81 Red meat was rationed during World War II, and posters such as this encouraged Americans to eat fish as a substitute for meat.

Red meat was rationed during World War II, and posters such as this encouraged Americans to eat fish as a substitute for meat.

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#82 Quiet! Loose Talk Can Cost Lives Poster by Holcomb

Quiet! Loose Talk Can Cost Lives Poster by Holcomb

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#83 Beware Poster by G. Lacoste.

Beware Poster by G. Lacoste.

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#84 Our Fighters Deserve Our Best Poster

Our Fighters Deserve Our Best Poster

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#85 Do It Right, Make It Bite Poster by Cecil Calvert Beall

Do It Right, Make It Bite Poster by Cecil Calvert Beall

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#86 See “Here’s Your Infantry” and Buy That Extra Bond Poster by Jes Schlaikjer

See "Here's Your Infantry" and Buy That Extra Bond Poster by Jes Schlaikjer

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#87 Next! 6th War Loan Poster

Next! 6th War Loan Poster

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#88 To Have and to Hold! War Bonds Poster

To Have and to Hold! War Bonds Poster

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#89 US Army anti-Japanese propaganda poster, World War II (1941-1945

US Army anti-Japanese propaganda poster, World War II (1941-1945

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#90 US Government poster identifying a Russian soldier as a friend who ‘fights for freedom’. 1942.

US Government poster identifying a Russian soldier as a friend who 'fights for freedom'. 1942.

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#91 US Government poster identifying an Canadian soldier as a friend who ‘fights for freedom’. 1942.

US Government poster identifying an Canadian soldier as a friend who 'fights for freedom'. 1942.

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#92 US Government poster identifying an Australian soldier as a friend who ‘fights for freedom’. 1942.

US Government poster identifying an Australian soldier as a friend who 'fights for freedom'. 1942.

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#93 One of the most memorable campaigns during World War Two, was the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.

One of the most memorable campaigns during World War Two, was the 'Dig for Victory' campaign.

Any piece of land that could be turned over to the use of growing fruit and vegetables was made use of.

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#94 He’s Watching You, American WWII Poster, Scary Helmeted German

He's Watching You, American WWII Poster, Scary Helmeted German

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#95 Vintage poster of silver coins turning into bullets.

Vintage poster of silver coins turning into bullets.

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#96 Vintage poster of railroad on track

Vintage poster of railroad on track

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#97 Vintage war poster of sailor looking through porthole.

Vintage war poster of sailor looking through porthole.

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#98 This World War II era poster was one of a series produced by Con Edison in support of the American war effort at home.

This World War II era poster was one of a series produced by Con Edison in support of the American war effort at home.

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#99 Somebody Blabbed – Button Your Lip! World War II Poster by Albert Dorne

Somebody Blabbed - Button Your Lip! World War II Poster by Albert Dorne

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#100 Bowl Them Over, More Production Poster.

Bowl Them Over, More Production Poster.

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#101 Defend Your Country Recruitment Poster by Tom Woodburn

Defend Your Country Recruitment Poster by Tom Woodburn

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#102 Let’s Show Them World War II Recruiting Poster.

Let's Show Them World War II Recruiting Poster.

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#103 It Can Happen Here! Poster

It Can Happen Here! Poster

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#104 More Production World War II Poster by Zudor.

More Production World War II Poster by Zudor.

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#105 This World War II era poster was one of a series produced by Con Edison in support of the American war effort at home.

This World War II era poster was one of a series produced by Con Edison in support of the American war effort at home.

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#106 A man kisses the exposed shoulder of a buxom blonde woman above the words ‘Gentleman Prefer Blondes, 1944.

A man kisses the exposed shoulder of a buxom blonde woman above the words 'Gentleman Prefer Blondes, 1944.

The rest of the caption reads 'POWs have a better chance for romance than crippled fighters'. A German flyer aimed at Allied troops during World War II.

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#107 A member of the Brigate Nere or Black Brigade, a World War II Fascist paramilitary group in Italy, 1944.

A member of the Brigate Nere or Black Brigade, a World War II Fascist paramilitary group in Italy, 1944.

The caption reads 'Brigate Nere, pronti, ieri, oggi, domani al combattimento per l'onore d'Italia' ('Black Brigade, ready yesterday, today and tomorrow to fight for the honour of Italy').

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#108 Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through joining the Women’s Land Army.

Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through joining the Women's Land Army.

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#109 World War II War Bonds Poster Art

World War II War Bonds Poster Art

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#110 World War II War Bonds Poster Art

World War II War Bonds Poster Art

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#111 World War Ii War Bonds Poster

World War Ii War Bonds Poster

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#112 Hitler’s Children, poster, right: Bonita Granville on poster art, 1943.

Hitler's Children, poster, right: Bonita Granville on poster art, 1943.

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#113 World War Ii War Bonds, poster, US poster art.

World War Ii War Bonds, poster, US poster art.

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#114 World war two Vichy French anti-American (Roosevelt) propaganda poster, 1943.

World war two Vichy French anti-American (Roosevelt) propaganda poster, 1943.

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#115 Government issued wartime poster encouraging Americans not to waste food, 1943.

Government issued wartime poster encouraging Americans not to waste food, 1943.

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#116 World War II, American propaganda poster showing a woman working in an airplane factory.

World War II, American propaganda poster showing a woman working in an airplane factory.

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#117 An American war time poster featuring a mother and child, and war planes flying overhead, urging people to buy ‘bonds’.

An American war time poster featuring a mother and child, and war planes flying overhead, urging people to buy 'bonds'.

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#118 World War Ii Women’s Army Corps (wacs) Recruitment Poster Art, poster, 1943.

World War Ii Women's Army Corps (wacs) Recruitment Poster Art, poster, 1943.

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#119 World War Ii War Bonds Poster Art, poster, 1943.

World War Ii War Bonds Poster Art, poster, 1943.

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#120 World War Ii Poster Art, poster, 1943.

World War Ii Poster Art, poster, 1943.

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#121 World War Two commemorative propaganda poster, showing U.S. Marines raising flag at Iwo Jima, during the advance on Japan in the Pacific war.

World War Two commemorative propaganda poster, showing U.S. Marines raising flag at Iwo Jima, during the advance on Japan in the Pacific war.

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#122 Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through the purchase of bonds.

Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through the purchase of bonds.

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#123 Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through the purchase of bonds.

Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through the purchase of bonds.

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#124 Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through the purchase of bonds.

Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through the purchase of bonds.

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#125 Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through farm employment.

Propaganda poster from WWII advertising the importance of helping the war effort through farm employment.

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#126 Poster warning against ‘loose talk’ (talking about strategies or troop movements etc.) especially in front of Japanese people.

Poster warning against 'loose talk' (talking about strategies or troop movements etc.) especially in front of Japanese people.

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#127 World War Two, American Patriotic Poster.

World War Two, American Patriotic Poster.

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#128 World War Two, American Patriotic Poster.

World War Two, American Patriotic Poster.

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#129 Anti-Nazi propaganda poster (American) during World war two 1943. ‘We Shall Soon Have Our Storm Troopers In America!-Hitler.

Anti-Nazi propaganda poster (American) during World war two 1943. 'We Shall Soon Have Our Storm Troopers In America!-Hitler.

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#130 World War Two: American propaganda poster lampooning Adolf Hitler, 1943.

World War Two: American propaganda poster lampooning Adolf Hitler, 1943.

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#131 World War Two poster titled ‘Keep him goose-stepping! Let’s go, everybody! Keep `em firing!’.

World War Two poster titled 'Keep him goose-stepping! Let's go, everybody! Keep `em firing!'.

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#132 World War two, US Navy submarine recruitment poster 1943.