What is it about?

Children in World War II were effectively little adults, small versions of their parents, playing the same roles as the women and men in their families. Children, with their youthful innocence and whole lives ahead of them, were naturally symbolic of The Issues – what America was fighting for. And when fathers missed out on the births and/or milestones of their children, it was understood as part of the Sacrifice needed to win the fight. The propaganda message that most strongly defined children and childhood of World War II was OWI’s theme of Work and Production – the war at home and how each can fight. They bought bonds. They emulated soldiers and starlets. They boosted morale. They helped at home. Normal familial responsibilities like household chores took on added significance in the absence of fathers. Normal childish play became vital to the emotional well-being of mothers, grandparents, and extended family who had many worries and few entertainment options.

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Why is it important?

Limited attention has been given to how propaganda positioned children in the milieu of World War II. Understanding their changing roles, like understanding women's changing roles during that time, helps us to better understand the trajectory of society and the development of a generation.


Letters and life writings help to give us insight about how big events - often ones very removed from our own times and experiences - were experienced at the personal level.

Professor Christina M. Knopf
SUNY Cortland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: “Like His Dad”: Epistolic Constructions of American Children in World War II, Home Front Studies, January 2021, Project Muse,
DOI: 10.1353/hfs.2021.0001.
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