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.
The OWI served as an important U.S. government propaganda agency during World War II. It documented America’s mobilization for the war effort 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 training for war work, the increasing numbers of women in the workforce, and civil rights struggles–including the internment of Japanese Americans, and the movement to enable the increased participation of African American soldiers in the U.S. armed forces.
“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 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.”
- Search for terms such as: pilot, victory garden, war work, women or related keywords in the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs, for photographs of Americans contributing to the war effort. Try similar searches of the collection Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.
- Find personal accounts of life during World War II by searching the Veterans History Project database. Limit your search by conflict to “World War II”, and then select from options such as: “Digitized Collection? = Yes“, to find the full text of interviews and other digitized materials and “Branch of Service = Civilian” to find accounts of home front activities.
- Search the Library’s collection of posters from the Work Projects Administration (WPA) on terms such as “war posters,” and “civil defense,” to find posters displaying messages related to the war and to mobilization.
- To learn more about the activities of women on the home front during World War II, watch the Library’s Webcast: “Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II”.
- Find additional resources on World War II on the Library’s Web site and beyond by consulting the Digital Reference Team’s “A Guide to World War II Materials”.