Honors College Theses

Publication Date



History (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Craig Roell


Navy recruitment posters from World War II are an important piece of American culture. The iconic signage can be seen in antique stores and textbooks alike. However, these posters provide more than just bold imagery and vintage decor. By analyzing recruitment posters as if they were advertisements and placing them in the context of the time period, many facets of American identity can be understood, especially regarding race, gender, and patriotism. These posters, while they almost never stated the specific outlined duties of Naval careers or requirements for enlisting, advertised to readers under the premise that they understood the guidelines of who was allowed to enter the armed forces and a basic understanding of the war effort. Most posters featured white men in uniform (with a few notable exceptions) and explosive active imagery, along with striking symbols of patriotism and power in the United States, making it a country worth defending and fighting for. These aspects of Naval identity have persevered into today and similar themes can be seen in modern recruitment, albeit with more diversity in sailors featured in each piece. Overall, recruitment material provides a glimpse into standing military culture and the Navy that they hoped to build through those that they recruit.