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'V-Mail' Poster
Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

"V-Mail" Poster

Date: 1943
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer (Artist)

Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer was a Danish-born illustrator. He was well known for his effective and inspiring posters. Schlaikjer created powerful recruitment posters for the U.S. War Department. His posters were populated with heroic and handsome figures in dramatically posed combat situations.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 28" H x 22.25" W

Physical Description

Four color print on paper.

General History

During World War II, V-Mail became a popular way to correspond between soldiers and their loved ones at home. V-mail was written on a specially designed sheets, a combination letter and envelope. These sheets were sent to the government where they were reduced to thumb-nail size on microfilm. The microfilm was flown overseas and then developed at a lab close to the recipient's position. The V-mail letter-sheets, now about one quarter of their original size, were mailed and delivered to the soldiers or their families back home. The development of the V-Mail system reduced the time it took a soldier to receive a letter by a month - from six weeks by boat to twelve days or less by air. However, the main advantage of V-Mail was its compact nature. Reduction in the size and weight of the letters translated into more space for crucial military supplies on cargo planes. One roll of film weighing about 7 ounces could hold over 1,500 letters. Putting that another way, two pounds of microfilm replaced 100 pounds of letters! Over a billion letters were sent via V-mail between 1942 and 1945. In all about 556,513,795 pieces of V-mail were sent from the U.S. to military post offices and over 510 million pieces were received from military personnel abroad. Think of it as the earliest form of e-mail.


War: World War II
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