Stephanie S. Croatt
"YOUR MESSAGE HERE": AN ANALYSIS OF THE U.S. NAVY IN PHOTO POSTCARDS.
(Under the direction of Professor John Tilley) Department of History, April 2013
The purpose of this project is to analyze photographic postcards with images of the U.S. Navy between 1913 and 1945. This analysis will explore how the postcard images portray the Navy as powerful, competent, and happy. This portrayal became more pronounced over time, thanks to increasing photography training and censorship practices in the Navy. As a widely popular medium for the dissemination of "soft news" that would have recruited the public and enlisted population's consent and support of the U.S. Navy's activities, the photo postcards analyzed here demonstrate what kinds of messages the postcards would have conveyed. Photo postcards acted as evidence of the sailor's activities abroad and of the Navy's power in the form of ships and capable, numerous crews. While they offered proof of a powerful, capable Navy, the images would have also elicited pride and patriotism from the viewer. This, in turn, might have facilitated the civilian's furthered support of war efforts or of retaining funding for the Navy during peacetime, and enticing more men to join the Navy. For men in the Navy, the pride invoked by postcard images may have helped define their identity as a member of the Navy.