We Can Do It!

Poster Girls

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 260-6400
Internet: mdsa.net
e-mail: archives@mdsa.net

Introduction

War posters were a key element in the U.S. propaganda effort to mobilize the homefront during World War II. Wartime posters reinforced positive images of traditional middle class values such as family, patriotism, and free enterprise.

This selection of World War II posters illustrates how women were mobilized to prepare for and support the war effort by working in factories, nursing sick and wounded soldiers, conserving food and maintaining gardens, and joining the various branches of the military service.

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

STANDARD 3 The causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. role in world affairs.

Standard 3C: The student understands the effects of World War II at home

7-12: Analyze the effects of World War II on gender roles and the American family. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas] 
7-12: Evaluate how minorities organized to gain access to wartime jobs and how they confronted discrimination. [Formulate a position or course of action on an issue] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Soldiers without Guns
    NOTES: Information on ordering reproductions
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

  2. DESCRIPTION: "Have You Answered the Red Cross Christmas Roll Call"
    NOTES: Information on ordering reproductions
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

  3. DESCRIPTION: I'm Proud of YOU FOLKS too!!
    NOTES: Information on ordering reproductions
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

  4. DESCRIPTION: Victory Waits on Your Fingers
    NOTES: Produced by the Royal Typewriter Company for the U.S. Civil Service Commission
    SOURCE: Powers of Persuasion: Poster War from World War II
    REPOSITORY: NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-44-PA-2272)

  5. DESCRIPTION: Longing Won't Bring Him Back Sooner...Get a War Job!
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1944
    NOTES:
    Printed by the Government Printing Office for the War Manpower Commission 
    SOURCE: Powers of Persuasion: Poster War from World War II
    REPOSITORY: NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-44-PA-389)

  6. DESCRIPTION: We Can Do It!
    NOTES: Produced by Westinghouse for the War Production Co-Ordinating Committee
    SOURCE: Powers of Persuasion: Poster War from World War II
    REPOSITORY: NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-179-WP-1563)

  7. DESCRIPTION: Wanted! For Murder
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1944
    SOURCE: Powers of Persuasion: Poster War from World War II
    REPOSITORY: NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-208-PMP-91)

  8. DESCRIPTION: She's a : wow : women ordnance worker
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1942
    SOURCE: "A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters
    REPOSITORY: Minneapolis Public Library

  9. DESCRIPTION: "I've found the job where I fit best!" : find your war job : in industry -- agriculture -- business
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1943
    SOURCE: War Posters Collection State Library Resource Center
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library

  10. DESCRIPTION: Do the job he left behind : apply U.S. Employment Service...
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1943
    SOURCE: "A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters
    REPOSITORY: Minneapolis Public Library

  11. DESCRIPTION: Secretaries of war
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1943
    SOURCE: "A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters
    REPOSITORY: Minneapolis Public Library

  12. DESCRIPTION: "We'll Have Lots to Eat This Winter, Won't We, Mother?"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1943
    SOURCE: "A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters
    REPOSITORY: Minneapolis Public Library

  13. DESCRIPTION: Am I proud! .. : I'm fighting famine ... : by canning food at home
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1946
    SOURCE: "A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters
    REPOSITORY: Minneapolis Public Library

  14. DESCRIPTION: "Won't you give my boy a chance to get home?" : don't travel -- unless your trip helps win the war
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1944
    SOURCE: "A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters
    REPOSITORY: Minneapolis Public Library

Additional Media Resources

Powers of Persuasion: Poster War from World War II

"A Summons to Comradeship" World War I and II Posters

Posters of the Second World War in the Kittleson Collection at the Minneapolis Public Library

University of Washington Libraries War Poster Collection

Ohio Historical Society War Posters

War Posters Collection State Library Resource Center

By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943

The Art of War: World War II Posters from the Government Documents Collection

PRODUCE FOR VICTORY: Posters on the American Home Front (1941-45)

Additional Instructional Resources 

Resources on Incorporating Primary Sources and Historic Sites in Classroom Instruction

Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: Powers of Persuasion - Poster Art of World War II

Secondary Resources

Anderson, Karen Tucker. "Last Hired, First Fired: Black Women Workers during World War II" The Journal of American History, Vol. 69, No. 1. (Jun., 1982), pp. 82-97.

Campbell, D'Ann. "Women in Combat: The World War II Experience in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union" The Journal of Military History, Vol. 57, No. 2. (Apr., 1993), pp. 301-323.

Kossoudji, Sherrie A. and Laura J. Dresser. "Working Class Rosies: Women Industrial Workers during World War II" The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 52, No. 2. (Jun., 1992), pp. 431-446.

Sherman, Janann. "They Either Need These Women or They Do Not": Margaret Chase Smith and the Fight for Regular Status for Women in the Military The Journal of Military History, Vol. 54, No. 1. (Jan., 1990), pp. 47-78.

Westbrook, Robert B. "I Want a Girl, Just Like the Girl that Married Harry James": American Women and the Problem of Political Obligation in World War II. American Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 4. (Dec., 1990), pp. 587-614.

Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

An Archives of Maryland Online Publication
© Copyright, Maryland State Archives, June 23, 2004