Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. World War II Advertising Collection, 1940-1948 and undated
The J. Walter Thompson Company World War II Advertising Collection documents the war-related activities of the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) advertising agency during 1940-1948, including a few post-war assessments. In particular, it shows JWT’s contributions to the war effort by its in-house documentation and work on government, civilian, and war-supporting charitable organization accounts. Materials include lists, memos, press releases, correspondence, notes, and advertisement tearsheets and proofs. Many of the materials in this collection are products of campaigns conducted under the auspices of the War Advertising Council, as well as those sponsored by civilian clients. These advertisements and pamphlets supported food rationing, fuel and rubber conservation, the purchase of War Bonds, the United Services Organization (USO), military recruitment, and women's employment in war-related jobs. Other advertisements arose from JWT's work in 1941 and 1942 for the Navy Relief Society. Items produced by the JWT London Office supported British War Relief (Ministry of Food, 1940-1941) and the Food Facts series (recipes and cooking tips for foods available despite rationing).
The collection includes corporate-sponsored advertisements relating to the war effort. Companies represented include: the American Association of Playing Card Manufacturers (recreation for convalescent service-men, in cooperation with the Red Cross); Anthracite Industries, Inc. (fuel conservation); Eastman Kodak Company (U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps); and the Institute of Life Insurance (ads to fight inflation produced in cooperation with the Office of Economic Stabilization, and a “Keep Well” campaign). Other advertisements were backed by Lambert Pharmacal Co. (women's employment); Libbey Glass Company (recruitment of women Marines and nurses' aides); National Retail Dry Goods Association (nurse recruitment); Owens Illinois-Glass Company (paper salvage); Petroleum Industry War Council (campaigns for saving tires, rubber, and gasoline); Shell Oil Company and other petroleum and rubber companies (salvage of scarce materials); and Textron (nurse recruitment).
Related materials may be found elsewhere in the J. Walter Thompson Co. Archives, including the papers of JWT executives such as Samuel W. Meek, Walter O'Meara, Helen Lansdowne Resor, Stanley Burnet Resor, Ruth F. Waldo and James Webb Young. Similar materials may also be found in the R.C. Maxwell Company Outdoor Advertising Archives; the War Effort Mobilization Campaigns Poster Collection; and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) Archives.
- Collection Number
- J. Walter Thompson Company. World War II Advertising collection
- 1940-1948 and undated
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- 1.8 Linear Feet, 150 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. World War II Advertising Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
In April 1941 Stanley B. Resor, then president of the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), outlined the advertising industry's role in the coming conflict. In an article published in New York City Sunday newspapers, he spoke of advertising agencies' two goals: to keep consumers purchasing goods in order to help offset war expenses, and to relate the “truths” behind the government's policies and programs.
The J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) contributed to the war effort during World War II in two ways: by creating ads supporting government policies, and by granting its employees time off for their own war work. JWT's government accounts included the War Manpower Commission, handled by Helen Lansdowne Resor and James Webb Young; the Naval Aviation Cadet program, handled by Sam Meek; Woman Power, handled by William E. Berchtold; and the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, developed by Ruth Waldo and handled by Thayer Jaccaci. In each of these accounts, as in most campaigns formulated for the government, sponsors in private industry were sought. For instance, advertisements for the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps were sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company. In addition to the sponsorship of government advertising programs, clients adjusted their own campaigns to reflect America's war-time conditions. Advertising campaigns were also formulated for religious and charitable organizations. Both the British War Relief Society and the Navy Relief Society benefitted from the advertising expertise of J. Walter Thompson Company personnel. International offices of the Company became involved in a number of ways. The London Office, for example, prepared a conservation program for the Ministry of Food, while the Australian Office implemented an Australian-American goodwill campaign.
Company personnel were granted leaves of absence or time for civilian work of importance to the war. Among these were James Webb Young, chair of the War Advertising Council, tyhe predecessor to the Advertising Council; Samuel W. Meek, consultant to the Navy Department; and Walter O'Meara, Deputy Administrator for Information, Office of Price Administration. Those who remained in the office devoted some of their time and talent to aiding such organizations as the Camp Shows for Service Men, the Citizen United for Democracy, and the National War Fund.
Additional information about J. Walter Thompson Company's war efforts may be found in various collections of the J. Walter Company Archives: the Writings and Speeches Collection, especially the folders on Arno Johnson, 1944-1946, and Stanley B. Resor, 1940-1957; in the Domestic Advertisements Collection, various clients, 1940-1945; the Newsletter Collection, especially the JWT (Service) Newsletter, 1942-1945, and the J. Walter Thompson Company News, 1945; in A Primer for Postwar Prosperity and associated correspondence; and in A Review of Recent Advertising Aiding the War Effort by the Clients of J. Walter Thompson Company, circa 1945.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
- J. Walter Thompson Company. London Office
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- Advertising Council
- Advertising agencies
- Great Britain. Ministry of Food
- Navy Relief Society
- Public relations
- Rationing -- Great Britain
- Rationing -- United States
- Savings bonds -- United States -- History
- United Service Organizations (U.S.)
- Women -- Employment
- War Advertising Council
- Women -- United States -- History -- 20th century
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Women -- United States
- World War, 1939-1945 -- War work
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Mass media and the war
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Food supply -- United States
- World War, 1939-1945 -- United States
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Propaganda
- World War, 1939-1945 -- England
- Women in advertising -- United States -- History -- 20th century
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Food supply -- England
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Finance -- United States
The J. Walter Thompson Cmpany. World War II Advertising Collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift from the J. Walter Thompson Co. in 1987.
Processed by Elizabeth Dunn, Katherine Ross
Completed July 30, 1997
Encoded by Richard Collier
Processing of this collection was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.