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How to Use the Images


Inquiry Question

Historical Context



Photo 1
Photo 2
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Photo 4


Table of

Visual Evidence

Illustration 1: Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell. [Draw 1] with link to larger version of drawing.
(National Archives and Records Administration)

Norman Rockwell, more than any other contemporary American artist, expressed the life and common experiences of middle America at home. His works were most often seen on the cover of the magazine, The Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell worked with Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms concept during World War II to promote public knowledge of the war effort. Powerful images representing Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear became much published posters and prints.

The concept of the Four Freedoms was presented to the American people on January 6, 1941. The occasion was President Roosevelt's annual message to Congress:

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms:

The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want--which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants--everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.¹

Questions for Illlustration 1

1. Norman Rockwell shared the gift with Franklin Roosevelt of being able to bring great ideas down to a personal level. What are the people doing in each of the scenes of the poster? How do their activities reflect each of the Four Freedoms?

2. What kind of impact do you think these images had at the time they were printed?

3. Do you think these images are still powerful today? Why or why not? How might a contemporary artist or photographer update these images?

¹Thomas S. Bruchner, The Norman Rockwell Treasury (New York: Galahad Books, 1979) 77-78.

* The image on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Illustration 1, but be aware that the file will take as much as 31 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.



Comments or Questions

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