"THE AMERICAN RED CROSS WAR FUND"
ERICA AUSTIN and SAMANTHA DEFFLER
GROUP I, TEAM 1
The Poster / The Artist / The Icons
Dated December 1941, the poster depicts an Uncle Sam figure, and an attractive American Red Cross Nurse whose hands are extended, as if welcoming any donations.
The creator was James Montgomery Flagg, most famous for his “I Want You” poster, originally published during the First World War. One noteworthy cultural accomplishment of Flagg is his catalysis of the transformation of Uncle Sam from a “benign old man in stars and stripes . . . into a compelling leader who meant business.”1 The painting depicts Flagg’s favorite model, Georgia McDonald, as the Nurse. The physical attractiveness of McDonald and other “Flagg girls” symbolized ideals of beauty that would aid in propaganda . . . Flagg depicted himself as Uncle Sam, as he did in all of his other posters portraying the icon.2
Research / Analysis
Jean Henri Dunant was creator of a movement, originally formed in 1823, which ultimately [became] the International Red Cross. Under the direction of President Abraham Lincoln, the United States joined the organization in 1864. The basis of the American National Red Cross began during the Civil War when the United States Sanitary Commission provided relief [for soldiers].3 Dunant was . . . awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.4
Dunant [had] stated that “the influence of woman is an essential factor in the welfare of humanity and will become more considerable as time proceeds.”5 On April 29, 1861, women in New York organized the Women’s Central Association of Relief, largely based upon the courage of the hero[ine] of the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale. After the Civil War, renewed attention to the Red Cross was not given until Clara Barton was able to convince the United States to participate.6
The Union County Chapter of the American Red Cross fostered the development of a Bucknell branch of their chapter, later named the “College Unit.” In February 1942, Dorothy Dyer, Dean of Women, requested that a branch of the County Chapter be [organized] . . . the students at Bucknell took nursing courses, led blood drives, and helped with [supplying materials and supporting the programs of] Navy trainees stationed on campus.7
According to the meeting minutes in the archives of the Union County Red Cross, there was a Junior Red Cross division of the local chapter. Students from the schools in [the] district enrolled. After the War Fund poster had been publicized for a year, there were only seven schools in the entire county [that] did not have students enrolled in Junior Red Cross programs.8
The Junior Red Cross of the local chapter . . . gathered donations for the War Relief Fund through several activities, including the February 1942 Extravaganza, with both a play and dance.9 … the Extravaganza added a sizable amount . . . donated by the Junior Red Cross to the War Relief Fund, bringing the tally to $305.95, a very high amount raised by children at that time.10
1Susan E. Meyer, James Montgomery Flagg (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1974), 37.
5Henry Dunant: The Birth of the Red Cross (Union County American Red Cross Archives), 2.
7Elizabeth E. Eyer, “Meeting Minutes, April 16, 1943” (Union County American Red Cross Archives).
8Ibid., “Meeting Minutes, January 19, 1943” (Union County American Red Cross Archives).
9Ibid., “Meeting Minutes, February 13, 1942” (Union County American Red Cross Archives).
10Ibid., “Meeting Minutes, March 17, 1942” (Union County American Red Cross Archives).