During World War II, in the summer of 1942, the United States government started a branch known as the Office of War Information (OWI) whose role was to bring together many of the government communications circulating during the war. As a part of its job, the OWI was responsible for creating and distributing news used domestically concerning the war.
The OWI used radio broadcasts, posters, and eventually used newsreels to promote patriotism in the home front, inspire women to sign up for war work and also warn citizens of foreign spies. OWI created countless propaganda posters to push these initiatives, which overtime have become an iconic symbol of America during WWII. Messages in these posters and radio broadcasts urged women to start canning their food, planting gardens, and keeping sensitive information to yourself in fear of saboteurs and spies.
One of the most interesting pieces of information produced by the OWI was their United News Newsreels. They developed hundreds of newsreels aimed at conveying these messages. The United News newsreels were shows throughout the U.S., but were also developed in several languages and distributed to allied and neutral countries. Some of the more well-known events covered in these newsreels include the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the Japanese surrender, D-Day, and many others.
Ancestry.com’s database of 267 of these newsreels is an amazing collection to explore. Genealogy is about more than just the hard facts – birth dates, marriage records, death dates, etc. These newsreels help us understand what life was like for those who were fighting overseas and also for those that were left behind on the home front, and it’s interesting to see the stark differences between wartime then and now. Explore this amazing collection and help tell your ancestor’s whole story!