June 6th marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of German-occupied France during World War II. In honor of this anniversary, I thought I would share some of the posters found in the National Association of Manufacturers collection from that era. Unlike the World War I posters in the NAM Collection, which encouraged people to buy liberty bonds, the World War II posters stress the importance of industry in the war effort.
As NAM president Frederick C. Crawford wrote, “if these inspiring messages - from our war leaders, from one of our great army of workers, and from the honored parents of five young American boys who gave their lives that we might live - can help to make us all realize that every minute we spend at the job of producing for war will save countless lives and bring the final Victory closer to hand, I believe they should be displayed in every shop, in every plant, and in every office in the land.”
It was everybody’s job to “back our fighting men to the limit, shun complacency, keep up morale, set and beat higher and higher production goals, fight absenteeism, build teamwork, increase efficiency, [and] make every minute count.” Workers in manufacturing are referred to as “soldiers of production,” directly tying them to the overall war effort.
These posters were created by the National Industrial Information Committee (NIIC). It was formed in 1934 during the Great Depression to produce public relations programs that highlighted the benefits of the private enterprise system. By 1943, the NIIC had approximately five-thousand members and established several committees to facilitate its operation. During World War II, promotional events used to influence workers were the 'Soldiers of Production' rallies. These events were to stimulate employer-employee relations and boost employee morale through a thirty-minute rally that combined patriotic music and a pro-industry message in industrial plants on company time. Like the posters, the rallies were designed to increase production, lower absenteeism, and impress workers with teamwork, pride in one’s job, and appreciation of one’s company and its products.
For more information about the NIIC, consult the National Association of Manufacturers records, series III. For more World War II posters and other visual materials, please consult the National Association of Manufacturers photographs and audiovisual materials.
Ashley Williams is the project archivist for the NAM Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.