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Original U.S. WWII War Manpower Commision “Women In The War” Propaganda Poster - Issued to JH Bunnell & Co - 40” x 28”

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. In the face of acute wartime labor shortages, women were needed in the defense industries, the civilian service, and even the Armed Forces. Despite the continuing 20th century trend of women entering the workforce, publicity campaigns were aimed at those women who had never before held jobs. Poster and film images glorified and glamorized the roles of working women and suggested that a woman's femininity need not be sacrificed. Whether fulfilling their duty in the home, factory, office, or military, women were portrayed as attractive, confident, and resolved to do their part to win the war.

This is a lovely Second World War poster promoting women in the wartime workforce, produced in 1942 by the War Manpower Commission. At the time, “Women in the War” was one of the most widely distributed images of a woman laboring in war production, unlike the “We Can Do It” poster, which was produced only for Westinghouse plants during a few weeks in 1943 and did not become iconic until the 1980s.

The poster shows a young woman working on an An-M26 Parachute Flare. Parachute flares provided illumination for night photo or observation missions. A fuze ignited the flare, and a parachute retarded its fall while it burned for about three minutes with a yellowish light of about 800,000 candlepower.

The following message is displayed on the poster:

in the war


The back of the poster has evidence of this example being issued to a rather popular company! The stamp shows that J.H. BUNNELL & Co received this poster to their factory office on September 19, 1942.

Bunnell manufactured and supplied telegraphy and other electronic equipment for the military from the time of the Spanish American War through the present. Bunnell also made keys for Great Britain's military.

During WWII, the Bunnell Company employed 600 people, in a number of manufacturing plants, to produce a variety of electrical and communications items. After WWII, they continued to supply the military through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War period.

The poster is in excellent condition and the only “discrepancies” would be the original fold marks. These posters were too large to issue out by the sheet, so the factories and agencies would fold them up, making it easier to distribute out to the public, military agencies and work/public environments. This lovely example measures at 40”H x 28”W.

Comes ready to display!

During World War II, more than six million women joined the civilian workforce, filling jobs left vacant by the men who went to war. They labored in the lumber mills and steel mills, the foundries and shipyards. They became clerical workers and taxi drivers, mechanics and police officers, and they served their country in the war effort through various auxiliary organizations. Government propaganda, including the fictional Rosie the Riveter, sought to make these non-traditional jobs more appealing to women. Those efforts proved to be successful, as roughly one-third of the civilian workforce between the years 1940 and 1945 was comprised of women. During those years, they produced an astounding 300,000 aircraft, 12,000 ships, 86,000 tanks, and 64,000 landing craft in addition to millions of artillery pieces and small weapons. Despite the fact that many lost their jobs following the end of the war, the legacy of Rosie the Riveter continues to live on.

Among the many agencies President Roosevelt had created during the war was the War Manpower Commission, formed in April 1942 to oversee war labor issues in the military, industrial, and civilian sectors. And in June 1942, the Office of War Information was formed to manage the flows of news and propaganda about the war to the public. By 1943, when the labor shortage was most acute, the two agencies worked together in concerted campaigns, targeting employers to hire women and women to become ‘production soldiers’.

Women laboring in factories, even in the service of the war effort, was controversial, with only 30 percent of husbands giving unqualified support to the idea of their wives performing such jobs. “Despite the tide of public opinion against working wives, War Manpower Commission director Paul McNutt had a strategy for quelling opposition: ‘The money appeal will continue strong,’ he said in 1943, but we’ll concentrate on patriotism’. Sure enough, all across the country, the public was bombarded with spirited print and radio ads, magazine articles, and posters with slogans like ‘Do the Job He Left Behind’ or ‘Women in the War—We Can’t Win Without Them’ depicting noble, pretty but serious, female war workers on the job... The campaigns glamorized war work, always showing that women could maintain their femininity and still be useful.

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