Information and Disinformation: The World War II Rumor Project

All done! Launched September 14, 2022 and completed October 18, 2022.

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The World War II Rumor Project collection contains documentation compiled by the Office of War Information (OWI). Although the project was often described as a “rumor control” effort, the researchers were well aware that control of rumors and misinformation in a free society with a free press is extraordinarily difficult. The project was an opportunity to study the spread of rumors, to learn about rumors circulating that might have an impact on national security, and to create educational outreach to help head off rumors in the first place.

This collection includes documentation of the project administration as well as the rumors gathered in two different efforts -- from individuals and schools. Private individuals were enlisted to write down rumors in their communities and send them to federal agency field representatives. These individuals or "correspondents" included dentists, beauty shop operators, policemen, proprietors, and librarians who had access to rumors in their communities. The second rumor source was teachers who collected rumors, jokes, rhymes, and anecdotes about the war from high school and college students. Subjects include Adolf Hitler, Japan, rationing, and rhymes and stories composed or recorded by students.

Content Advisory: Because of potentially offensive and racist language and views, which reflect both their time and circumstances, this transcription project may not suitable for all volunteers.