Retooling for Victory: The Factory Front

The 1930s had been an era of violent labor disputes. Now the war emergency demanded a change in American industry--not only a switch from consumer goods to war materiel, but also a change in workers' and managers' attitudes from antagonism to cooperation. The government launched a campaign urging workers to make personal sacrifices to win the war, and individual businesses and labor unions quickly followed suit. Eventually, privately produced posters vastly outnumbered official government-issued posters.

For manufacturers, the war was an opportunity to gain greater control over their work force. In the push for increased productivity, factory managers called for employees to suspend union rules, abandon traditional work patterns, and make sacrifices in the name of patriotism.

Government agencies offered tips on the design and placement of posters in the factory, urging employers to "use enough" -- at least one poster per 100 workers. Plant managers, company artists, paper manufacturers, and others needed little encouragement to carry out this advice; private industry produced vast numbers of production-incentive posters during the war.

"Battle Stations!"
(Fisher Body Division, General Motors Corporation, 1942
Poster, 164393.03, 31" x 41" 90-460.
Gift of Fisher Body Division, General Motors Corporation.)

(General Cable Corporation, 1942,
Poster, 164976.01, 30" x 39" 91-14111.
Gift of General Cable Corporation.)

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