During World War II, the war effort couldn’t be stressed more to the public than through the importance of buying stamps and bonds. The Utah Chronicle reported on April 8, 1943, that the University of Utah was starting a bond drive on April 19 with the goal of reaching $75,000 to buy a P-51 Mustang fighter plane by June 1. If the drive reached its goal the fighter plane would have the university’s name painted on its nose when it flew into its first battle. The Utah Chronicle made it a point to get young people involved and well informed in the war effort and contained multiple articles that detailed the development of the drive and how much money was raised.
The Utah Chronicle article “Easter Morn to Bring out Newest Fashions in War Time Clothing” mirrored many of the wartime efforts by magazines to encourage the purchase of war bonds. The majority of the article listed the newest spring clothing the campus coeds would be wearing on Easter Sunday. However, the author, Gladys Barker, tagged on at the end of the article, “It’s not wise to say that old bear ‘Vanity’ will not overcome that desire to save money for war bonds and stamps.” Its addition seems to contradict the theme of spending money on clothing yet it blatantly displays the obsession in raising money for the war effort.
World War II brought out this involvement from the public to support itself. Basically, those who weren’t drafted were encouraged to buy stocks and stamps to fund those who were involved in the war — some of whom were University of Utah students. The overt patriotism that came up after the United States entered the war really shows in some of these articles and advertisements. One ad filled the entire page of an April issue of the Utah Chronicle. It depicted a caricature of Adolf Hitler with a swastika in the background. On the left side it read “JUNK HIM” and on the right side it read “BUY BONDS.” World War II was presented and is often remembered as a very black and white, good versus evil type war. The Nazis and the Axis Powers were considered evil and the US and its allies were good, so it was very easy to assimilate a communal aspect to the American public, and on a smaller scale, to the students at the University of Utah, especially when the majority of information people received about international affairs were from printed publications.
The drive worked as a great marketing ploy to get students to help out. By contributing to the drive, students were aiding the US in its quest for victory, and their school’s name would be on that fighter plane attempting to achieve it. The Utah Chronicle went as far as writing an article on April 29 that Nazi forces would infiltrate the campus on Friday, April 30, in an attempt to dissuade anyone from purchasing any securities in the form of war bonds and stamps. This article, “Nazi Forces to Blitz Utes on Friday,” read as a letter from Colonel Reinhart Von Schlubbe, but it wasn’t true. However, it sparked a reaction by students and resulted in a total of $1,000 in stamps and bonds that were bought that day despite the alleged raid, according to The Utah Chronicle’s May 6 article “Nazis Leave After High Stamp Sale,” which, of course, included a reminder about the bond drive and when and where to purchase bonds and stamps.
Despite the effort put into the advertising and emphasis in the articles for war bonds and stamps, the drive itself didn’t do well. The Utah Chronicle also reported on May 6 how the University of Utah only gathered $8,000 in five weeks for the drive, while the “high school down the street” managed to raise $45,000 in eight days. To add on, it brought the patriotism of the university into question and challenged the students to answer by buying more bonds and stamps. While the cause for the drive was to raise money to aid the military, the reward for reaching the goal made it look like it was a popularity contest. It felt that the U was trying to be the school that could say, “We raised the most money! We rallied for the cause! And now our name is immortalized in this war on the nose of a P-51 Mustang Fighter Plane!”
Eric U. Norris is a senior at the University of Utah. He’s majoring in communication with an emphasis on journalism. He is also a senior staff writer for SLUG Magazine.
Martin Tubbs, “U Sponsors Plane in Stamp Drive,” Utah Chronicle, April 8, 1943, 1.
Gladys Barker, “Easter Morn to Bring out Newest Fashions in War Time Clothing,” Utah Chronicle, April 22, 1943, 3.
“Nazi Forces to Blitz Utes Friday,” Utah Chronicle, April 29, 1943, 1.
Advertisement, “Heil Hitler: Junk Him; Buy Bonds,” Utah Chronicle, April 29, 1943, 3.
“Nazis Leave After High Stamp Sale,” Utah Chronicle, May 6, 1943, 1.
“Bond Drive Shows Little Enthusiasm,” Utah Chronicle, May 6, 1943, 2.