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Office of War Information

The Office of War Information, widely known by its acronym OWI, was a Federal agency during World War II in charge of the dissemination of all official news in the United States and abroad and of propaganda abroad (except in Latin America, which was the province of the Office of Inter-American Affairs). The OWI was created within the Office for Emergency Management by executive order of June 13, 1942, and combined several existing Federal information services including the Office of Facts and Figures. Elmer Davis, the director of OWI, was authorized "to formulate and carry out, through the use of press, radio, motion picture, and other facilities, information programs designed to facilitate the development of an informed and intelligent understanding, at home and abroad, of the status and progress of the war effort, and of the war policies, activities, and aims of the government." These objectives were prosecuted within the United States by the agency's Domestic Operations Branch. Thus, the OWI decided what government programs should go on the air in time allocated weekly by radio stations, served as co-ordinating agency and clearing house for war information campaigns conducted through advertising in the press and on the radio, and helped in the production and distribution of many information and war-combat motion pictures. Operations of the domestic branch, however, were sharply curtailed by Congress in 1943 after OWI was criticized for alleged political propaganda. The Overseas Operations Branch collaborated with United States and Allied military agencies in the prosecution of psychological warfare in active military zones. OWI attempted to undermine the enemy's morale, strengthen resistance in enemy-occupied territories, and further understanding of the objectives of the United Nations. OWI was terminated by an executive order of August 31, 1945.