Thousands of posters were produced and distributed by the Office of War Information (OWI) during World War II to persuade the American people to support the war effort. To get these messages out, the Federal government mobilized the Boy Scouts of America.

The scouts would distribute posters to stores located on the street level every two weeks. Approximately 2,300 communities participated. The OWI shipped posters to a central distributing outlet, such as a large department store. The Boy Scouts picked up their posters and distributed them to the smaller stores.

At first, African American scout troops distributed only posters with African American themes. For instance, the poster featuring Dorie Miller, who received the Navy Cross for heroism under fire at Pearl Harbor, was at first distributed only through channels in the African American community, such as churches, restaurant, and benevolent organizations.

In May 1943, Jacques DunLany, the chief of OWI’s Production and Distribution Division, suggested that the agency might be criticized if it continued to single out the African American scouts as distributors of posters with African American themes, adding that the boys might feel “they were being ‘segregated’ or even ‘discriminated’ against.” While African American scouts continued to distribute posters to mainly African American establishments, the OWI made sure they also received the same posters as any scout troop.

Read more about the WWII contributions of the Boy Scouts in Prologue magazine: