Army Historical Publications WWII

Army personnel

Army historical publications WWII included what military officials term "newsmaps" as well as pamphlets and posters. These publications told people about issues important for Army personnel. They also dealt with citizens and ways in which they could assist the Army in their everyday lives. During World War II, Americans tended to believe that they had a responsibility to assist the war effort in any way they could. The "guns and butter" motto of Vietnam was a new concept since Americans had, during previous times of war, learned that national sacrifice was a necessity.

Type of Army Historical Publications WWII


The Army provided a few types of publications. The first, and least political, were the "newsmaps." They gave maps of locations where the Army sent soldiers. A typical newsmap would include geographic information about a specific area. The map would have bodies of water, important cities, and other landmarks included. The maps also had some information about the political climate of the country being represented. Official newsmaps also included information about military bases. Most people believed, and were correct, that the United States would increase its military presence worldwide following a victory in the war. The Armed Forces released information about where those proposed bases would be so citizens could feel confident that another Pearl Harbor-type attack was avoidable and that the United States would be involved in political issues throughout Europe.

GI Bill

A second type of Army publication explained the Serviceman's Readjustment Act. The act, commonly called the GI Bill, passed in 1944, before the war ended and gave a number of benefits to returning soldiers. The bill has changed several times since, but the basic concepts, that soldiers would receive government monies for various life-changing events, were the same. The Army worked hard to get out information about the GI Bill to soldiers and to people who may consider enlisting to take advantage of the benefits. They distributed posters about school costs, farm loans, veteran benefits, and other portions of the GI Bill. Each poster had a photograph and a small explanation for that portion of the bill.

Citizen Action

The final group of Army posters were propaganda posters aimed at citizens who had no interest in, or were not permitted to, join the Army. These posters, such as one from 1946 proclaiming "Facing Starvation," gave the average American ways that she could reduce food purchases to help out the military. These posters also focused on not purchasing black market goods, not sharing any secrets with enemies, and other issues the Army deemed important.

Finding Army Historical Publications WWII

Versions of these publications exist at university and archival libraries around the country. Southern Methodist University and the University of North Carolina both have extensive collections, and other libraries have a few pieces. These publications can be quite the find outside library environments, and a good price guide could help figure out an appropriate value. It also is possible to find similar types of vintage posters in other venues as well, such as on eBay or through brick and mortar antique auctions.

Understanding Value

The key to making sound decisions on military memorabilia is an understanding of the market and an ability to distinguish real publications from the fakes. Military memorabilia gain popularity based in part on the current climate toward those times. Movies about World War II, for example, will push up the demand for all World War II pieces in general but specifically for pieces related to the topic of the movie. The movie Pearl Harbor, then, would have helped collectors who had items related to the Pacific theater.

Determining a real publication from a fake one is fairly simple once you understand what you would look for in a real publication. First consider that many hands will have touched it. People do not generally pick up military publications and preserve them, so something without a single crease, smear, or obvious wear (not necessarily damage) will indicate that something is authentic. Memorabilia dealers and military fairs also are places where experts gather, and they can determine by examining the type and quality of paper, as well as other factors, whether a piece is likely to be an original.

Army Historical Publications WWII