Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Pete Claussen Collection of American Flag Magazine Covers


Collection ID:
Claussen, Pete
Physical Description:
7 Cubic feet
21 boxes
American magazines and magazine covers dating from 1941 through 1943 with illustrations of the American flag collected and donated by Pete Claussen.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
This collection contains American periodicals and periodical covers dating from 1941 through 1943 that depict the American flag. There is one cover dating from 1941. Series one consists of the periodicals and periodical covers. Oversized materials are located at the end of the collection but are alphabetized in the container list. Series two is composed of period ephemera related to the flag.
The artwork on the covers illustrates the flag in a variety of styles, from a small inset on an unrelated image to a color spread encompassing nearly the entire cover. In some instances, the flag appears in patriotic scenes of American life on the home front while in others it appears in battle or in close proximity to specific factories or consumer products.
Beyond their covers, the periodicals contain a snapshot of American life during the middle years of the Second World War. They include an extremely broad range of interests and topics ranging from embalming practices to railroad employee journals. War-related themes are conveyed in the form of patriotic articles, practical advice and knowledge, jokes, and caricatures of enemies. Photographs provide a visual depiction of day-to-day life during the period. Periodicals in the collection include magazines, comic books, community newspapers, and story collections. Most are imprinted with a date of publication or copyright and many include the "United We Stand" slogan. Non-periodical materials in the collection include a "United We Stand" postcard, an Indiana public schools syllabus entitled "Character Education," and a booklet entitled "Make and Mend for Victory" with instructions for making clothing wear longer. A reprint of a letter of appreciation for high achievement in the production of war equipment sent to the White Motor Company by the Under Secretary of War is included, along with a similar letter to the Hoover Company. Also part of this series is a 1942 magazine which captures the patriotic spirit of the time but does not depict the American flag.
This collection represents a contribution to the understanding of American patriotism and patriotic symbolism in American life, as well as mutually beneficial collaboration between the United States government and private industry.
In July 2002, Mr. Pete Claussen, a member of the Museum's National Board, viewed the exhibit July 1942: United We Stand ( The exhibition featured American flag cover art. Most of the covers in the exhibition were loaned to the Museum. Mr. Claussen became so interested in the covers that he began collecting them and donating them to the Museum.


The collection is arranged in two series.
Series 1, Magazine Flag Covers, 1941-1943
Series 2, Ephemera, 1942-1943

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
The National Publishers Association coordinated a campaign with the United States Department of the Treasury in the summer of 1942 to feature the American flag on magazine covers. Paul MacNamara, a publicist with the Hearst Corporation in New York, conceived of the campaign. The magazine industry could demonstrate its patriotism and the importance of magazines to American morale and at the same time justify its use of paper and other resources in the face of rationing. The Treasury Department endorsed the program and assisted magazine publishers by organizing store displays designed to show off the covers to the public. The federal government benefited from the campaign as many magazines, at the request of the Treasury Department, ran advertisements for war bonds. About five hundred magazines participated in this campaign.
The campaign rules required that the flag was not to have any overprinting, was to be displayed according to flag protocol, and was to appear with the motto "United We Stand." The motto, long a part of American history, came from the 1768 ballad
The Liberty Song
by John Dickenson. The United States Flag Association, in support of the "United We Stand" campaign, selected winning cover designs and awarded its Patriotic Service Cross to eight magazines and the Cross of Honor to the grand prize winner.
Harper's Bazzar
House and Garden
Infantry Journal
The Merck Report
Modern Industry
NYLIC Review
This Week
earned the Patriotic Service Cross. The
House and Garden
cover, as the grand prizewinner, also was awarded the Cross of Honor.
The Treasury Department attempted to reprise the campaign again in 1943, but participation was scattered and not on the same level as the original 1942 campaign.


Christopher Abraham
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Pete Claussen in May 2004 and January 2007.
Mr. Claussen is committed to supplementing the collection with missing titles as he obtains them.
Processing Information
Processed by Christopher Abraham, intern, October 2004; Joseph Neuuman, volunteer, 2006; and Christine McClatchie, volunteer, 2007; supervised by Vanessa Broussard- Simmons, archivist.

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Preferred Citation
Pete Claussen Collection of American Flag Magazine Covers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Ivory Soap Advertising Collection, 1883-1998 (AC0791)
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
Fred S. Rosenau Papers, 1944-1945 (AC0478)
Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer Poster Collection, 1942-1952 (AC0546)
Some of the magazines in this collection are in bound editions in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Flags -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Magazines (periodicals) -- 1940-1950 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Patriotism Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012