Spotlight: Propaganda

Due to recent physical changes in the Still Pictures Research Room, space became available for staff to showcase reproductions of some of our holdings. This inaugural display was created by Aaron Arthur and Michael Bloomfield to present examples of Propaganda held by the Branch.

“Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.”
Edward Bernays, 1928.

Propaganda has existed since the 1600’s, and originally was used when discussing the furtherance of religious activity.[1] Not until the Wars of the 20th century did the term come to denote information being used in a calculated way to elicit a certain outcome or mindset.

While modern propaganda tends to be thought of as posters, it can span various types of media, to include photographs, written papers, or leaflets. It can be used to show the purported benefits and civility of a certain group of people, such as the reading room for German soldiers in World War I (59-GP-A1550), to the danger and evils of another country (242-NK-200643-2).

These eleven examples of propaganda were chosen to showcase the wide variety of media available here in Still Pictures Branch, from the run-of-the-mill to the clichéd. 


“Kill Your Enemies without Mercy! Pusan and Jinhae located with a Foot! Raise our Victorious Flags into the Sky and Move Forward! Move Forward!” August 1950. From Series P: North Korean Propaganda Posters, ca. 1950 – ca. 1950; Record Group 242. 242-P-2
From Series PA: World War II Posters, 1942-1945; Record Group 44. 44-PA-133
From Series PA: World War II Posters, 1942-1945; Record Group 44. 44-PA-1930
“Ein Leseasaal deutscher Soldaten an der Westfront. A reading room for German Soldiers on the Western Front.” From Series GP: German Propaganda Photographs, 1916-1916; Record Group 59. 59-GP-A1550
Title: “Pictures of Allies performing community services . Compatriots of Sung Nhon and Nghi Duc villages are unfortunate. Because of poor infrastructure, their agriculture production is very low. The villages’ land is abundant, but without the ability and the tool to help developing them. Our Allies’ Army, while patrolling in Nghi Duc village, Hoai-Duc district town, Binh Tuy, built a bridge, which leads to rice-field. This bridge will improve our compatriots’ life at Sung Nhon and Nghi Duc villages because of increased agriculture production. “From NORRIS: Graphic Material Used in Psychological Operations in the Vietnam War, 10/1969 – 10/1970; Record Group NORRIS.                 NORRIS-NORRIS-6-770-70. 
“Glory Great October” From Series SP: Soviet “Motivational Propaganda Posters, 1958-1962; Record Group 319. 319-SP-7