On the Water

Poster, You Bet I'm Going Back to Sea

During World War II, the United States government recognized that full public support and dedication to the war effort was essential to victory. To bolster support, the government hired artists to create propaganda posters, designed to promote patriotism with simple, catchy slogans and colorful images. Toiling factory workers, thrifty home front mothers, and fearless soldiers were among the most popular images used by artists to communicate the message.

This 1942 poster commissioned by the War Shipping Administration encouraged a specific mission, designed to attract former seamen back into the Merchant Marine. At the time, American shipyards were producing cargo ships faster than crews could be assembled, forcing recruiters to rely not only on new volunteers, but also to persuade experienced mariners to leave retirement and go back to sea.

The creation of incentive posters mainly fell under the watch of the Office of War Information, a government agency created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in June 1942 to consolidate public information services and coordinate the sanctioned release of war news. The OWI reviewed and approved the content of newsreels, radio broadcasts, and billboards, in addition to producing hundreds of posters. Initially, the most pressing message to be communicated through posters was a warning to Americans about the dangers of discussing sensitive information like production schedules and troop movements that could be overheard by enemy spies. Over the course of the war, posters covered a variety of topics, such as encouraging the purchase of war bonds and galvanizing the work force at shipyards to keep production going on the assembly line.

ID Number:
1991.0856.07
Material:
paper
Date:
1942
Dimensions:
20 x 14 1/2 in
Source:
Gift of Frank O. Braynard