WWII Posters

War Bonds, Victory Gardens and Canning


World War II posters helped to mobilize a nation. Inexpensive, accessible, and ever-present, the poster was an ideal agent for making war aims the personal mission of every citizen. 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.

Deriving their appearance from the fine and commercial arts, posters conveyed more than simple slogans. Posters expressed the needs and goals of the people who created them.  There were many hundreds of different posters printed.  Here is a representative cross section with music from the era.  Press the Play triangle to start.

5 minutes

Originally “War Bonds” were named defense bonds; however, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were renamed war bonds. War bonds are designed and issued by some government entity by countries that are in war. During World War II, bonds were used to fund the war. The catch was after a ten year period the bond would be mature, and the money would be returned to you. The American economy was coming out of a major depression which rendered the minimum wage to a mere forty cents an hour. Many people, however, were not paid minimum wage which resulted in many people not being able to afford war bonds. In some cases, people were badgered to buy stamps. The purpose of a stamp was to buy one, anywhere from ten cents and up to save towards a war bond. The type of bonds that were used sold at seventy five percent of their face value in different denominations ranging from ten dollars to $100,000.

The "Of Course I Can" poster was created by the U.S. War Food Administration in 1944 as part of the nationwide victory garden program. Victory gardens made an important contribution to the home-front effort by producing a significant amount of food (approximately 40 percent of the vegetables consumed in 1943) and by providing a way to contribute to the war effort for those who could not fight on the battlefield.

The book "Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity" by Amy Bentley contains a chapter examining victory gardening and canning during the war, gender politics, and how the nation responded to the call to do their part in the war by gardening and canning. Canning was an important part of the victory garden program, as it allowed the bounty of the harvest to be preserved for the winter. Canning was a common activity during the war: in 1942, 64% of women canned food for household use; in 1943, the percentage was 75%. On average, families that canned put up 165 cans or jars per year during the war. Although most of the canning was done at home, about 5,000 community canning centers were established across the country. These centers were places where specialized equipment like pressure canners (devices that allow the food to be heated beyond the boiling point of water, thus killing pathogens that can survive in boiling water) or very large hot water baths could be used for a fee .