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.
- 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. Use the Advanced Search option to limit your search by conflict to “World War, 1939-1945 [World War II]”, and then choose from options such “Select Highest Rank = Civilian” to find accounts of home front activities. Review the Searching the Collection section for more hints.
- 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”. Also take a look at the Today in History feature about Rosalind P. Walter, one of the first inspirations for Rosie the Riveter as a symbol of all women working in the war industries during World War II.
- Find additional resources on World War II on the Library’s website and beyond by consulting World War II: A Resource Guide.