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Collection World War II Rumor Project

About this Collection

The World War II Rumor Project collection contains manuscript materials compiled by the Office of War Information (OWI). The OWI was established by an Executive order on June 13, 1942, for the purpose of achieving a coordinated governmental war information program. The information program was designed to promote an informed and intelligent understanding of the status and progress of the war effort, war policies, activities, and aims of the United States government. All functions of the Office of Facts and Figures and of the Office of Government Reports, and parts of the functions and related records of two other agencies were transferred to the OWI.

For the World War II Rumor Project, field representatives collected information from community-based correspondents and sent duplicate or triplicate copies of reports of the correspondents to Dr. Eugene Horowitz at the Bureau of Public Inquiries of the OWI. The reports listed rumors and anecdotes that were compiled by Dr. Horowitz and William H. Webber arranged in alphabetical order by states and by subjects.

This collection has two distinct components. The first component involved field representatives of various federal agencies in the United States instructed to enlist individuals in their communities who were willing to write down rumors and send them to the field representatives. These individuals or "correspondents" included dentists, beauty shop operators, policemen, proprietors, and librarians who had access to rumors in their communities.

The second component involved rumors, jokes, rhymes, and anecdotes about the war from high school and college students collected by teachers. Subjects include Adolf Hitler, Japan, rationing, and rhymes and stories composed or recorded by students. This collection contains historical materials that are products of their particular times, including offensive language and negative stereotypes.