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U.S. Treasury poster by C.C. Beall, 1945.

The United States and World War II

Curated by William J. Dane
Third Floor Gallery
July 10 - October 2001

An exhibition honoring America’s victory in World War II, an event that changed world history, is currently on view at The Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street in downtown Newark. The exhibit consists of historic posters especially designed and printed from 1941 to 1945, unique photographs, biographies of the wartime leaders, popular songs to raise patriotic sentiments and to boost morale on the home front and advertisements from a variety of American industries which clearly reveal that the conflict was a crusade for victory over fascism, dictators and enemy nations committed to war, conquest and loss of individual rights and personal freedom. "The United States and World War II" is the title of the project which marks the 60th anniversary of the entry of the United States into the titanic struggle which ultimately involved North Africa, Europe, countries of Asia, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, The Soviet Union and huge naval battles in the Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. 

The Coast Guard Women's Reserve, also known as SPARs, from the contraction of the Guard's motto:  Semper Paratus, Always Ready.

Poster by Glenn Grohe, 1942.

Enormous public interest in the American contribution to this struggle has been seen recently by new motion pictures from Hollywood and non-fiction best sellers with three hugely popular wartime histories and personal accounts gathered by Tom Brokaw, the TV news reporter who declared that the years 1941-1945 and the peacetime decades which followed gave America it’s "Greatest generation" in their selfless efforts to win victory and prosperity for our nation as well as for other parts of the world.
 
Vintage posters from The Library’s Special Collections urge women to very actively take part in the war effort as members of the armed forces, to train as nurses, to work in heavy and light industries, to raise vegetables and help out with harvesting food, and to collect materials needed for the war effort. The internal security of our nation was another major concern of the U.S. Government with many posters sternly warning citizens not to talk about troop and ship movements, their jobs for war industries or rumors hurtful to the efforts for victory. The slightest bits of information according to war posters might sink ships, help enemy submarines and directly lead to the death and injury of American soldiers, sailors and marines thus delaying the inevitable victory for Allied causes.
U.S. Treasury poster, 1944.

American Red Cross poster.

Recognition of the contributions of nearly 1,200,000 African-Americans who served from 1941 through 1945 is noted in addition to biographic coverage of the Allied leaders such as President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill from Britain, Stalin from the Soviet Union, De Gaulle for France and Chiang Kai-Shek for China. Nazi combat troops invading the Soviet Union in 1941 and 1942 are shown in glossy, censor approved photographs as well as biographies of three Axis leaders, Hitler from Nazi Germany, Mussolini from Fascist Italy and Emperor Hirohito from the Japanese Empire. 

On a lighter note is a grouping of popular songs from the War years. These include “The Beer Barrel Polka”, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, “The White Cliffs of Dover”, and Irving Berlin’s deeply patriotic “God Bless America”. The human cost of the war is not precisely known, but total casualties could have reached 57,000,000 people with 220,000 Americans killed during the savage conflict. This public exhibit recalls these historic years from young and old timers who want to know more about the gigantic achievement of the armed forces and civilian population of the United States for what was truly a war which stretched around the world.

Sheet music for "Any Bonds Today?" by Irving Berlin, 1941.

 

Sheet music for Frank Loesser's "Praise the Lord and pass the Ammunition!",  1942.

 

This historic exhibit is curated by William J. Dane of the Library’s Special Collections Division using vintage materials nearly all of which have been gathered over six decades by the Library’s staff. The Library itself assisted regularly in war efforts granting Newark Library cards to any service person in uniform stationed in the city, gathering books in fine condition to send to the various camp libraries in New Jersey, urging people to use library materials to better prepare themselves for war production jobs and by sending 19 staff members to the armed forces as recorded in a service flag from 1945 which bears 19 blue stars on a field of red and white. The exhibit is open during regular hours of The Newark Public Library through October 2001, with no admission fee. For additional details or other basic information, please call 973-733-7745.
Coca-Cola advertisement, 1942.
Photo of Nazi tanks invading the Soviet Union, 1942.
Poster by Ben Shahn, 1942.

 

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