Office of War Information

Propaganda Filmmaker

Edit and Publish Your Own Short Patriotic Film

Many of the photographs that John Collier Jr. took during the 1940s for the Office of War Information (OWI) were used to support the efforts of the United States in World War II. In this activity, you'll have an opportunity to use Collier's photographs, as well as posters and video clips from the era to create your own short film.


By combining photographs, text, audio and video, users create their own piece of propaganda that communicates a message.

Historical information

During World War II, the government launched a campaign to inspire Americans on the home front to support the war effort. As part of this campaign, they used posters, photographs, radio, television and print to educate and encourage certain behaviors - saving, reusing, conserving, growing and canning one’s own food. Working as part of a governmental agency, John Collier Jr. took photographs all over the country that captured specific moments, activities or moods. Some of these images were eventually used in propaganda campaigns about life on the American home front during the war years.

In the classroom

To do this activity in the classroom, students can create posters inspired by actual historical posters from the World War II era. Look at examples of these posters on the following websites.

World War II poster collection at Northwestern University Library
Posters on the American Home Front, an on-line Smithsonian Institution Exhibition
World War II posters from New Hampshire State Library
EH Tepper Collection of World War II posters at Rutgers University Library
World War II propaganda on-line resources organized by teacher Tracy Oz

Consider the visual composition of these posters and what design techniques are used  to communicate messages in a strong way. Inspired by these images, students develop their own messages and then create a poster that communicates that message. Posters can be displayed in a classroom exhibition.


Explore more historic photographs and footage from World War II on the following websites.

Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress
Internet Archive Movie Archive