Not too long ago, I gave a presentation on posters to a group of university students studying the history of graphic design. I included this poster designed by Adolph Treidler:
Treidler designed posters for a variety of organizations/causes during both world wars. During World War II, he created a number of posters for the Woman Ordnance Workers (WOW) of the U.S. Army. Looking closely at the poster I showed the group, I noticed that the decorative elements on the WOW’s bandana were not polka dots. An internet search for more information brought me to the official homepage of the United States Army Ordnance Corps & Ordnance School, where I learned the history of the symbol featured on the bandana. Called the Shell & Flame, this insignia is meant to represent a hand grenade.
Knowing that the Library’s poster collection included more Treidler WWII posters, I wanted to learn if the WOW bandana was also featured. I was not disappointed. Here is another Treidler poster from the poster collection:
Though she is not singled out as a WOW, you can tell by the bandana that the overall-clad woman war worker is a WOW! The Prints & Photographs Division has two more Treidler posters that reference the WOWs:
This poster highlights the various types of headwear sported by women in the war effort. The WOW bandana is shown alongside hats worn by women in the military and the Red Cross.
The Army website mentioned an advertisement for the bandana in the July/August 1943 issue of Army Ordnance: The Journal of the Army Ordnance Association. I suspected that I could locate this publication in the Library’s general collections. Again, I was not disappointed! Here is the inside front cover of the issue:
Oh my goodness! The advertisement featured the poster that started me on this research journey!
- See more posters designed by Adolph Treidler in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.
- Look at more American WWII posters in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.
- Explore the history of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps.
I think if I remember properly March 21st was Rosie the Riveter day. What a great way to celebrate the women behind the war effort and to learn the Women Ordnance Workers.
The global dynamic of defense and protection versus aggression plays out through the forties well into the seventies. I have been drawn to the United States patriotic boosting posters of forties. Women joining the workforce in support of the U.S.A. and their soldiers overseas was memorialized through targeted poster campaigns. Patriotic posters is an artwork genre I enjoy looking at for both the art and the messages.