AHA’s GI Pamphlets (WWII; US DOD)

So, once again, in pursuit of my own research interests, I’ve discovered a trove of online materials that others might find useful. The American Historical Association, it seems, produced a series of pamphlets under the rubric “GI Roundtable” in the 1940s. Here’s how the AHA describes the series:

As texts, the AHA’s G.I. Roundtable series provides a unique insight into a particular moment in time. . . .

The G.I. pamphlet series was prepared under the direction of the Army’s Division of Information and Education between 1943 and 1945 “to increase the effectiveness of the soldiers and officers as fighters during the war and as citizens after the war.” The accent in the pamphlets is on what the postwar world would look like, and reassuring servicemen that they would have a place in postwar America.


Of particular interest are the pamphlets:

Pamphlet from the AHA's GI Roundtable series: "What is Propaganda?"

Pamphlet from the AHA’s GI Roundtable series: “What is Propaganda?”

What is Propaganda? which offers a comprehensive overview of 1940s thinking about propaganda and how to properly conduct it in a democratic society.


GI Radio Roundtable — a how-to guide for hosting your own radio chat session with GI’s, whom, we’re told, “like to talk things over”


How Far Should the Government Control Radio? — A real question in war time as the government struggled to craft a positive message for the home front but held little control over the airwaves.


What is the Future of Television? — which considers the likely shape and impact of television on government, businesses, individuals and families after the war. A nice snapshot of TV’s state of development circa 1945.

I also came across the “Handbook for Military Government in Germany” while searching for info on radio in post-war occupied Germany. It’s the full handbook, so you can see for yourself the instructions US Army personnel were given in 1946. It includes info about how to handle radio and film–both production facilities and movie releases–among other things.

Finally, some of you may know this tome, but I somehow missed it until now (insert hand smacking head emoji): David Culbert and Lawrence Suid’s Film and Propaganda in America: A Documentary History, 1945 and AfterIt’s full of amazing primary source material regarding relations between the US Defense Department and film producers and distributors. A literal gold mine! 

I’m off to the National Archives to dig into the history of the American Forces Television Network. Will file a report on that when I return! Until then, happy document hunting.

Leave a Reply