This film is part of Free

Mr and Mrs America

Rumour clinics, female garage attendants, scrap metal drives and zoot suits: American society was changing in unexpected ways as the country entered its second year of war.

Documentary 1943 20 mins


Presented in the form of a letter to a son on active service, this March of Time film presents a comprehensive look at the changes America was experiencing in 1942. Taking over from the usual strident tones of Westwood Van Voorhis, the sleepy Midwestern voiceover tells a story of a country discovering a newfound sense of identity in ‘The People’s War’: from civilian air cadets and volunteer nurses, to community fundraisers, a vociferous free press and a newly empowered female workforce.

The piles of V Mail letters seen in this film show the importance and popularity of this form of correspondence, which was the primary means through which families could communicate with servicemen and women stationed abroad. The letters were censored then copied onto film, before being sent as a thumbnail-sized microfilm to their destination, where they would be blown up and copied onto paper to be read by the recipient. This method ensured that the postal system could reserve more of its capacity for vital war materials.