Forgotten photographs of a late summer Sunday in Central Park, 1942

When World War II broke out, most Americans saw propaganda as a tool of totalitarian dictatorship. In addition, many remembered with hostility the propaganda efforts of World War I, which were later perceived as infringing on basic rights as well as providing misinformation.

At first, the government was reluctant to engage in publicity campaigns, but pressure from the media, business sector and advertisers who wanted the direction persuaded the government to take an active role.

Nevertheless, the government insisted that its actions were not propaganda, but a means of providing information. These efforts were gradually and randomly built into a more integrated propaganda effort, though never to the level of World War I.

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