The Office Of War Information

On June 13, 1942, some six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Office of War Information (OWI) was created. In October of that year, the documentary photography unit of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) was transferred to the OWI to document the war effort, as it had the U.S government’s battle against poverty during the Great Depression. An important U.S. government propaganda agency during World War II, the OWI supported America’s mobilization for the war effort by recording the nation’s preparations for war in films, texts, photographs, radio programs, and posters. OWI photographers documented American life and culture during the early years of World War II, focusing on such subjects as aircraft factories, training for war work, women in the workforce, and the armed forces. Photographs were created to inspire patriotism in the American public.
The Kind of Man Hitler Wishes We Didn’t Have, A bomber pilot, captain in a bombardment squadron, just before he climbs aboard his huge YN-17 bombing plane. Alfred T. Palmer, photographer, May 1942. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945
Girl In A Glass House. Long Beach, California, Alfred T. Palmer, photographer, October 1942. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945
This Girl In A Glass House is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber. She’s one of many capable women workers in the Douglas Aircraft Company plant. Better known as the “Flying Fortress,” the B-17F is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the South Pacific, over Germany, and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men….
Pearl Harbor Widows. Corpus Christi, Texas, Howard R. Hollem, photographer, August 1942. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945
Pearl Harbor Widows have gone into war work to carry on the fight with a personal vengeance. Mrs. Virginia Young (right) whose husband was one of the first casualties of World War II is a supervisor in the Assembly and Repairs Department of the Naval Air Base. Her job is to find convenient and comfortable living quarters for women workers from out of the state, like Ethel Mann, who operates an electric drill. OWI photographers also covered activities on the home front such as the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps and social change including the massive movement of women into the workforce and the advancement of African Americans in the military. The gains made by women and minorities during the war years would influence America in the second half of the twentieth century.

Learn More