u.s. office of war information


Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942. by Michael Donovan

John Vachon (1914-1975) is the photographer.


Christine Meisner
The Freedom of, 2015–2016
installation of drawings and video

In 1954 the radio show “Music USA—The Jazz Hour” went on air for the first time. Broadcast by Voice of America radio station and produced by the U.S. Office of War Information, the show played a major role in the global expansion and reception of jazz. Promoted as the “voice of freedom” the U.S. government regarded it as an important means to reach out to the world and spread Western ideas. However, communist and socialist governments and apartheid regimes banned the program so the show could only be received illegally. While radio listeners worldwide felt the music was “played by someone, who is free,” African-American jazz musicians experienced racism and discrimination on a daily basis in their homeland.

The Freedom of sets out as an investigation into a lost chapter in radio history. Broadcasts can be recorded, stored and thus memorized but reception can’t. Sounds transmitted over the air seem to vanish into the ears and minds of unknown listeners. There is no ground to dig in, no place to examine, no object to be grasped—just ideologies, misconceptions, and promises traversing the intangible landscape of the ether. The work evokes a space in which all the properties of sound and its reception become visible. A battlefield where the impulse to “extend the area of freedom” and persistent efforts to disturb that sense of mission crisscross. It contemplates how freedom comes into being by questioning its means and meanings.

The installation represents the last part of a trilogy preceded by the drawing series Wade in the Water (2010) and the video Disquieting Nature (2012). In her long-term project the German artist Christine Meisner confronts the ideological American landscape with its notion of liberty.

Though printed during the World War II era referring to when the Nazis burned books and art that they considered “degenerate”, FDR’s quote is as relevant today as it was back in 1942. Knowledge is indeed power.

File name: 07_01_000011

Title: Books are weapons in the war of ideas

Creator/Contributor: Broder, S. (artist); United States. Office of War Information (sponsor)

Created/Published: U.S. Government Printing Office

Date issued: 1942

Physical description: 1 print (poster) : color

Summary: Poster of Nazis burning books, with quotation by Franklin D. Roosevelt on a large book in the background: “Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons.” Poster produced by the United States Office of War Information (OWI) for distribution to libraries and book stores.

Genre: War posters

Subjects: Books; Propaganda; Book burning

Notes: U.S. Government Printing Office : 1942—O-487131; OWI poster no. 7; For additional copies write Division of Public Inquiry, Office of War Information, Washington, D. C. Specify O.W.I. No. 7

Location: Boston Public Library, Print Department

Rights: Rights status not evaluated


Employee of the Vilter Manufacturing Co. filing small gun parts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1943. by Michael Donovan

<br /><i>Via Flickr:</i>
<br /><b>The photographer was Howard R. Hollem.<b></b></b>

Children aiming sticks as guns, lined up against a brick building, Washington, D.C., 1942. by Michael Donovan

Photographer unknown.