Patriotic Thrift: Savings Campaigns and Imperial British Identity in World War II and After

During the second world war, savings campaigns mobilized the people of the British empire and commonwealth, whether men, women, or children, to make public, individual investments in the war effort. They bought bullets, boots, bombs, planes, and more, and by the end of the war had (cumulatively) accumulated millions of pounds in war bonds. Nor was this initiative limited to the UK—it extended to the empire, with special issues of war bonds in places as far flung as New Zealand, Uganda, and Canada. During a residency at STIAS, I plan to draw on archival research in Uganda, Britain and Canada, add additional South African research, and examine the propaganda and networks these wartime initiatives established by drafting preliminary articles. My research to date suggests that savings, along with education in thrift, was part of imperial identities during the war, and continued afterwards in a context of British austerity as financial education taught the perils of inflation, consumption and immediate gratification, and emphasized the civic individual and collective virtues of thrift.

Project leader(s):
  • Carol Summers (Department of History, University of Richmond)

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