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Unique Materials in the State Library's Government Documents Collection

 by Audrey L. Hall, Library Consultant, Government Information Services, State Library of Ohio

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There is a mystery writer hidden in a federal Army document. During WWII, Cpl. Dashiell Hammett was one of the authors of The Battle of the Aleutians: a Graphic History, 1942-1943. Already a successful mystery writer when he joined the Army as a private, Hammett was the creator of detectives Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon and Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man. The Battle of the Aleutians is a fugitive document meaning it was not distributed by the Government Printing Office. A search in OhioLINK shows a photocopy held by Kent State University.

Other already famous artists and writers who produced work for the government during WWII include Theodore Geisel better known as Dr. Seuss.  This is Ann—she drinks blood : her full name is Anopheles Mosquito and she's dying to meet you is a 1943 orientation booklet written by Dr. Seuss for the Army. It explains how to protect yourself from the mosquito that carries malaria. There is a link in the State Library catalog to the digital reproduction.

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 Geisel wrote films that included Your Job in Germany, Our Job in Japan and the Private Snafu series of adult army training films as part of a military film production unit headed by Major Frank Capra.  Capra directed or co-directed eight documentary propaganda films between 1942 and 1948, including the seven-episode Why We Fight series.
Walt Disney created animation for some of the Capra films. Walt Disney Studios made educational or propaganda films for every branch of the U.S. military and government. In The New Spirit of ’43, Donald Duck deals with income taxes and shows their benefit to the American war effort.  The film, which was made at the request of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., was a factor in the willingness to pay taxes according to a Gallup poll.  
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President Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech inspired a set of Four Freedoms paintings by Norman Rockwell. The four paintings were published in The Saturday Evening Post in spring 1943. The Department of the Treasury toured Rockwell’s Four Freedoms raising over $130,000,000 in war bond sales.   We have prints of the Four Freedoms in our federal poster collection. The call numbers are PR 32.5015/43/2 to PR 32.5015/46/3. The records also have links to the images.
Will Eisner was internationally known in the field of sequential art (comics) when he was drafted in 1942. He introduced the use of comics for training personnel in the publication Army Motors.

One of his company’s longest-running jobs was PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, a digest-sized magazine with comic-book elements that he started for the Army in 1951 and continued to work on until the 1970s. The State Library has later editions classed D 101.87: His 1968 M-16 Army Rifle Maintenance Booklet on the proper cleaning and maintenance of the M-16A1 rifle was issued, with rifle, to every U.S. soldier stationed in Vietnam. It is available online at
“Electricity” was designed and illustrated by David Macaulay for the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1983. Macaulay’s signature pen and ink drawings are clearly recognized. It is classed in Y3.T25:EL2/12.
 Many artists and writers began their careers working for the government. In the mid 1940’s, Rachel Carson was an aquatic biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior. She authored four Conservation Bulletins on fish and shellfish (I 1.72:33, 34, 37, 38) almost twenty years before she wrote The Silent Spring.  These are in the State Library’s collection.
James A. McNeill Whistler worked for the U.S. Coast Survey for 2 months in 1854. He is credited as one of the engravers of the Anacapa Island sketch as J.A. Whistler in a Serial Set map. The citation is 757 S. Exdoc. 10, map 51. He much later painted Arrangement in Grey and Black: the Artist’s Mother better known as Whistler’s Mother.