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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:

Lesson 2: Production and Propaganda

Background Information for Teachers

During World War II, the government undertook unprecedented campaigns to engage Americans in the war effort. Private business followed suit, often attempting to link their products with appeals to patriotism. Propaganda and advertisement sometimes became inextricably entwined in the process.

 

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  1. Define and identify propaganda.
  2. Analyze the significance of advertising as a method of propaganda.
  3. Discuss the importance of home production to the war efforts overseas during World War II.

 

Suggested Activity
  1. Make a copy of the letter from General Motors to Governor Chauncey Sparks for each student.
  2. Show the advertisements that had been produced for national distribution to the class.
  3. Ask the students the following questions:
    1. Why did I. B. Babcock write this letter to Governor Sparks?
    2. What was the purpose of the advertisements?
    3. What did the advertisements have to do with Alabama?
    4. Is this propaganda? Why or why not?
    5. Would this advertisement be as effective in more industrialized portions of Alabama?
  4. Write a letter of response from Governor Sparks to General Motors.

 

Document: General Motors Letter and Advertisements
  • Document 1: Babcock, I. B., Pontiac, Michigan, to Hon. Chauncey Sparks, Montgomery, Alabama, 9 September 1943. Alabama Governor (1943-1947: Sparks) Administrative Files, SG 12412, Folder 182, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 2: ". . . Speaking of Shell Production." Advertisement. General Motors, n.d. Alabama Governor (1943-1947: Sparks) Administrative Files, SG 12412, Folder 182, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 3: "Another Front Line." Advertisement. General Motors, n.d., Alabama Governor (1943-1947: Sparks) Administrative Files, SG 12412, Folder 182, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.