In contrast to cultural history that draws on high art that is largely inaccessible to the masses and provides only encapsulated excerpts, Scott (2011) describes that “… popular cultural history draws on a broader base of materials and a more complete record, especially for the past two centuries (a period roughly coterminous with the existence of the United States of America). Thus, as historical subjects get closer to the present and the depth and breadth of evidence expands, it is increasingly possible to write history that reconstructs the mental universe in which ordinary people lived.”
Still in use today in United States Army recruiting materials, the iconic ‘Uncle Sam’ image by James Montgomery Flagg image was first published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1852-1922) a year before America entered WWI. It is consistent with a shift that can be observed cross-culturally at that time towards greater personalization in wartime propaganda. Patriotism, self-sacrifice and “making due”, doing your part at home or at the front, the purchase of war bonds… These were among the themes that were commonly articulated through mass media in both Allied and Axis nations.
WWI and WWII offered Japan a vehicle for imperial expansion to other parts of Asia through military conquest. Critical to these pursuits were conquering the minds and hearts of Japanese citizens, including children who represented the future of the empire, and undermining enemy morale (Aoki, 2016; Kennedy, 2007; Manga, 2016). Early manga used in propaganda was an effective medium.