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Use of Historical Documents in the Classroom


Propaganda on the Home Front during World War II



            Lori Stephens

            Smart Intermediate

            Davenport Community School District

            Summer 2008










“Wanted for Murder, Her Careless Talk Cost Lives”

(1941 – 1945)

NARA Still Picture Branch




Propaganda Posters used during World War II helped to mobilize a nation.  The posters were an ideal agent for making war aims the personal mission of every citizen.  Whether created by government or by corporations, these posters conveyed social, economic, and political ideas through imagery. 


This is an introductory lesson on propaganda and how it was used on the Home Front during World War II.  Students will search for and evaluate propaganda posters.  They will then categorize the posters into Female Workers, National Security, and Citizen Participation. 



Overview/State Standards/Resources/Procedures/Evaluation


Overview                                                     Back to Navigation Bar


Students will:

·        Acquire information from a variety of sources

·        Use information for problem solving and decision making

·        Use primary sources to gather information

·        Analyze propaganda posters using poster analysis worksheet

·        Broaden their technological expertise by navigating websites


Recommended time frame

2 days

Grade level


Curriculum fit

Language Arts


·        PowerPoint Presentation  (World War 2 and Propaganda on the Home Front)

·        Poster Analysis Worksheet

·        Hot List

·        World Wide Web


Davenport Community School District Standards           

                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar


Language Arts

Standard 1:  Students will apply reading, writing, and speaking skills to communicate effectively. 

·        1.1b    Students will understand the use of figurative language and word choice to support comprehension. 

·        1.1f     Students will be able to draw and support conclusions using text references. 

Procedures                                             Back to Navigation Bar


Detailed Timeline: This lesson will take 2 consecutive days in Language Arts class, which is 40 minutes long.



                                                                Day One:     Students will view PowerPoint on World

                                                                          War 2: Propaganda and the Home Front.    

                                                                          Discuss types of propaganda used in the

                                                                          propaganda posters. 


                                                                Day Two:      Have students research at least ten (10)            

                                                                           different types of propaganda posters and

                                                                           categorize them into the following

                                                                           categories: Female Workers, National

                                                                           Security, and Citizen Participation. 


                                                                           Use the  Poster Analysis Worksheet  to

                                                                           analyze at least one (1) poster in each of

                                                                           the three (3) categories.




Evaluation                                                   Back to Navigation Bar


·        Teacher will assess students based on participation during presentations

·        Categorizing propaganda posters

·        Poster Analysis Worksheet

Extensions                                                   Back to Navigation Bar


·        Produce a video short using propaganda showing their understanding of events on the Home Front during WWII.

·        Create poster based on today’s War on Terror.

·        Create poster which could be used during WWII.

·        Create pamphlet on different types of propaganda used during WWII.

·        Create song/jingle which could be used for propaganda during WWII or on the War on Terror.

·        Student Choice




Primary Resources from the Library of Congress

Back to Navigation Bar









Color poster shows a sad cocker spaniel with its head resting on sailor's collar on back of a blue chair. On the wall behind the chair hangs a "Gold Star" service flag with a red border, white center, and yellow star in the middle. A gold star on a service flag signifies a family member who has died in war.


. . . Because Somebody Talked!

by Wesley, 1943

Printed by the Government Printing Office for the Office of War Information NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-44-PA-227A)










Political poster showing an image of children playing in the shadow of the swastika.  


Don`t Let That Shadow Touch Them

by Lawrence B. Smith, 1942

Produced for the Government Printing Office for the U.S. Treasury NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-44-PA-97)









During WWII, Americans were urged to conserve gasoline (and most other consumer goods) in support of the War Effort. To ride alone was wasteful, and therefore it aided the enemy.

This poster depicts a well-to-do man riding in his 1940s convertible alone, save for a ghostly visage of Adolf Hitler riding next to him.


When You Ride Alone
You Ride With Hitler!

by Weimer Pursell, 1943

Printed by the Government Printing Office for the Office of Price Administration NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-188-PP-42)







Poster has a white background with the first line of text in black and the last line in red. Centered on the page is a black-and-white photo of a woman with a subtle smile on her face. "WANTED!" is above the picture with the remainder of text at bottom.



“Wanted for Murder, Her Careless Talk Cost Lives”  (1941-1945)


NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-208-PMP-91)








Women’s rights were forged from steel during World War II by Rosie the Riveter, pictured in J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It!” While men were at war, six million women replaced them at industrial plants. Creating a poster for Westinghouse, Rosie’s iconic feminist image appeared on magazines, newspapers, and posters, and helped increase women’s earning power and acceptance into male-dominated trades.



We Can Do It!

by J. Howard Miller

Produced by Westinghouse
for the War Production Co-Ordinating Committee NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-179-WP-1563)







Efficient workers must be helped to attain even greater efficiency.


Government agencies, businesses, and private organizations issued an array of poster images linking the military front with the home front--calling upon every American to boost production at work and at home.


"Killing Time Is Killing Men"

Artist: Reynold Brown, North American Aviation, 1943.  Poster, 164814.01, 32 1/2 x 42 1/2", 91-14114. (Gift of North American Aviation.)









At the beginning of the war, African Americans could join the Navy but could serve only as messmen.

Doris ("Dorie") Miller joined the Navy and was in service on board the U.S.S. West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Restricted to the position of messman, he received no gunnery training. But during the attack, at great personal risk, he manned the weapon of a fallen gunman and succeeded in hitting Japanese planes. He was awarded the Navy Cross, but only after persistent pressure from the black press.


Printed by the Government Printing Office for the Office of War Information NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-208-PMP-68) Dimensions: 20" (w) x 28" (h)






Back to Navigation Bar





Hot List of WW II Propaganda Posters


            Audio files and songs used for propaganda during World War II


            National Archives Powers of Persuasion (Poster Art from World War II)

Posters are divided into two parts.  Part I -- These posters, pictures of fists, muscles, tools, and artillery convey American strength. Patriotic colors of red, white, and blue predominate as national symbols, and heroes appeal to patriotism.    Part II -- These posters confront the viewer with the frightening stakes of the war and its human cost. Dark, earthen colors appear in portrayals of imperiled citizens, as well as dead and wounded soldiers.


Posters & Facsimiles: World War II


Good links for Nazi and U.S. Propaganda used during World War II


Good links for Nazi and U.S. Propaganda used during World War II


Over 300 posters are available from the Government and Geographic Information and Data Services Department at Northwestern University Library. This is a comprehensive collection of posters issued by U.S. Federal agencies from the onset of war through 1945. 


2,750 Posters on WWII. 


Hundreds of different World War II posters, World War II propaganda posters, Nazi propaganda posters, and reproductions. This site also includes World War II related  coins, stamps, postal history (covers), swords, daggers, and other memorabilia.  Sorted into the following categories:   Nazi, British, Russian, Italian, and Japanese.


Collection of World War II Posters using the theme: Careless Talk Kills.  The posters are then categorized by subtopics:  The Enemy Is Listening, Soldiers Will Die Because Someone Talked, Keep Your Mouth Shut, Loose Lips Sink Ships, Careless Talk Is Dangerous, Keep the Enemy Guessing, Who Not to Tell, What Not to Say, and Where Not to Talk.


Rosie Pictures: Select Images Relating to American Women Workers during World War II.  Broken down into the following: Black & White Photographs, Color Slides, Posters, Cartoon Drawings, and Additional Information and Resources.


Produce for Victory -- Posters on the American Home Front (1941-45)

This exhibition was organized by the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Government agencies, businesses, and private organizations issued an array of poster images linking the military front with the home front--calling upon every American to boost production at work and at home.


Every Citizen is a Soldier – Poster on the American Home Front (1941-45)

Addressing every citizen as a combatant in the war of production, wartime posters united the power of art with the power of advertising to sell the idea that the factory and the home were also arenas of war. Poster campaigns aimed not only to increase productivity in factories, but also to enlarge people's views of their responsibilities in a time of total war.


Fighting for an Ideal America -- Poster on the American Home Front (1941-45)

Whether created by government or by corporations, the production-incentive posters conveyed social, economic, and political ideas through imagery. Throughout the war, the imagery on such posters celebrated the middle-class home, the traditional nuclear family, consumerism, and free enterprise. Pictures of men and women conveyed assumptions about the roles of each in victory and offered a vision of life in an ideal postwar period.


Efficient Workers  --  Poster on the American Home Front (1941-45)

“Efficient workers must be helped to attain even greater efficiency. And these objectives must be gained by methods that are in harmony with the principles of a democratic society; they cannot be gained by commanding them; they must be gained by supplying incentives that will induce voluntary action.”


World War II Posters from the New Hampshire State Library.  Sixty-one posters, printed between 1941 - 1946, are a sampling of more than 200 World War II posters printed by the federal government to help mobilize American home front opinion for the prodigious efforts of production demanded of a war fought on two fronts.


The division's radio collections are an especially valuable source for studying the lives of American women during the World War II. During that time, radio served many functions for women both at home and abroad.


Assorted Posters and links dealing with World War II.  They have a special exhibit for Nazi Propaganda. 


Samples of Air-dropped and shelled flyers and pamphlets used during WW II.





PowerPoint Presentation


Click on the picture below to view the PowerPoint presentation. If that does not work, right-click here and select Save Target As.


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