Legal Publishing Advertisements During the Second World War, Korean War, Cold War, and Vietnam War
By Patrick J. Charles
I love military history, especially the history of the Second World War. My father served in the United States Army in Europe during the Second World War as a private in the 42nd Rainbow Infantry division. The 42nd Rainbow Division was involved in combat in France and the Rhineland area of Germany in 1945. His division liberated Dachau in April of 1945.
As a kid, I would spend hours listening to his stories and reading through his division’s history book. Growing up, I built dozens of Second World War model airplanes and read voraciously about all aspects of the Second World War, eventually pursuing an undergraduate degree in history. To this day, I enjoy reading and learning about the history of the Second World War.
The Second World War began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Within days, France and England declared war on Germany. From 1939 through 1941, the war raged in Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, and North Africa between the Axis and Allied forces. Initially, the United States was sympathetic to the Allied forces and supported them with materials and other resources; however, the United States was not actively fighting against Axis forces between September of 1939 and December of 1941. That changed on December 7, 1941, when Japanese naval forces attacked Pearl Harbor. After the United States entered the war, it fought in all theaters of operation, including Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean.
By the time the Second World War ended on August 15, 1945, it involved every major power and reached all corners of the globe. It was the costliest war in history, both in human lives and materials resources. According to Robert Goralski’s World War II Almanac: A Political and Military Record, more than 50 million combatants and civilians lost their lives during the conflict, and it is estimated that the war cost more than $1.6 trillion. Wikipedia characterizes it as a “total war,” stating that “The level of national mobilization of resources on all sides of the conflict, the battlespace contested, the scale of the military forces raised through conscription, the active targeting of civilians, the general disregard for collateral damage, and the unrestricted aims of the belligerents marked war on an unprecedented and unsurpassed scale.”
Due to the scale and scope of the conflict, every aspect of civilian life was affected. The American legal system, including legal publishing, was greatly transformed by the conflict.
The Second World War is often referred to as the “Good War” because it was a worldwide fight against fascism. From an advertisement point of view, direct references to the Second World War were ubiquitous because it was a “total war”; however, in every major military conflict in which the United States has been involved since the Second World War, advertisers avoided direct or even subtle references to the conflicts.
This article examines advertisements from legal periodicals and bar publications published during the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. Locating legal publishing advertisements from the Second World War was relatively easy because almost all civilians were involved in the war in some capacity or another and almost all advertisements reflected this either directly or indirectly. On the other hand, locating legal publishing advertisements for the other conflicts was extremely difficult because those conflicts didn’t seem to register as much as the Second World War did to the civilian population in the United States.
The Korean War is often referred to as the “Forgotten War” because there was very little attention given to it during and after the war. This was due to the fact that, unlike the global scale of the Second World War, the Korean War was limited to the Korean Peninsula. I was able to find a couple of legal publishing advertisements from the Korean War; however, none of them directly reference the war.
Initially, the Vietnam War was also viewed as something that was geographically limited in scope, and then later it became a war in which public opinion became very negative. I was only able to locate one legal publishing advertisement covering the Vietnam War. Surprisingly, it directly refers to the war and even includes a photograph of soldiers.
The Cold War was a bit different in that it had a global scale; however, it was not a “hot war,” and armed forces from the Soviet Union and the United States were not directly fighting each other. The Cold War-era legal publishing advertisements that I located are the most similar to the advertisements from the Second World War; however, they were harder to find, and by the mid-1970s, the advertisements were nonexistent.
Although legal publishing has experienced a significant amount of consolidation and change since the late 1990s, many of the names and legal publishers in these advertisements are recognizable.
“Blitzkrieg”—The Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company, 1940—Washington University Law Quarterly
Blitzkrieg is the German word for “lightning war” and is defined by Len Deighton’s Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk as the strategic and tactical use of tanks, infantry, artillery, and air power concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines. Blitzkrieg was particularly effective for the Germans in Poland, France, the Low Countries, and the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1942.
West Reporters and Advance Sheets “You’re Swell Too – Colonel”—West Publishing Co., 1943—American Bar Association Journal
During the Second World War, West sent advance sheets and bound reporters to overseas lawyers in the armed forces.
Commerce Clearing House “War Machine”—Commerce Clearing House, Inc., 1943—American Bar Association Journal
Commerce Clearing House specialized in publishing materials related to taxation and labor issues. This advertisement plays upon the theme of generating revenue to fuel the war machine.
American Jurisprudence “There is No Blackout of Legal Rights”—The Lawyers Co-Operative Publishing Co. and Bancroft-Whitney Co., 1943—Law Library Journal
A blackout during war is the practice of extinguishing all outdoor lights to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight, according to The Simon and Schuster Encyclopedia of World War II.
During the Second World War, the mainland United States was not exposed to air attack; however, along the Atlantic coast, the lack of coastal blackouts served to silhouette Allied shipping and thus expose them to German submarine attacks.
Shepard’s Citations “Don’t Get Caught in the Blackout”—The Frank Shepard Company, 1942—Virginia Law Review
Prior to the availability of Shepard’s on LexisNexis, Shepard’s Citations were published in print. The Frank Shepard Company (later Shepard’s Citations Inc.) had a long history of interesting and colorful advertisements. This advertisement plays upon the blackout theme.
Shepard’s Citations “Speed & Efficiency”—The Frank Shepard Company, 1942—Illinois Law Review
This advertisement highlights the speed and efficiency of Shepard’s Citations and compares it with the speed and efficiency of America’s military and capacity that produced armaments for the war effort.
Corpus Juris Secundum “Corpus Juris Secundum is Such a Weapon”—The American Law Book Company and West Publishing Co., 1943—Georgetown Law Journal
Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) began publication in 1936 by The American Law Book Company and West Publishing. This advertisement attempts to show that secondary sources, such as a legal encyclopedia, were fast and effective weapons when engaged in legal battles.
Military Law and Defense Legislation—West Publishing Co., 1943—American Bar Association Journal
Many legal treatises were published specifically dealing with wartime legal issues. West’s Military Law and Defense Legislation (1941) was one of the leading legal treatises on military law.
Commerce Clearing House “War Law Service”—Commerce Clearing House, Inc., 1944—American Bar Association Journal
Commerce Clearing House (CCH) specialized in publishing materials related to taxation and labor issues. This is an advertisement for the CCH War Law Service, which was a loose-leaf service specializing in government contracts.
Commerce Clearing House “War Factory”—Commerce Clearing House, Inc., 1944—American Bar Association Journal
Commerce Clearing House specialized in publishing materials related to taxation and labor issues. This is an advertisement for the various CCH loose-leaf services and highlights the theme of industrial might and power.
United States Code Annotated “Speedy Congressional Service”—West Publishing Co. and Edward Thompson Co., 1944—American Bar Association Journal
West has been publishing the United States Code Annotated (USCA) since 1926. The “speedy” Congressional Service is the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN).
Federal Digest “Bomber Jim”—West Publishing Co., 1944—American Bar Association Journal
West’s Key Number System has been using the topic and key numbers since the 1890s when West began publishing the American Digest System. This advertisement highlights the reality that law firms were shorthanded because many lawyers were off fighting in the war.
American Law Reports “War Curfew”—The Lawyers Co-Operative Publishing Co., 1944—American Bar Association Journal
Beginning in 1943, volumes in the ALR 1st Series included annotations relevant to the war effort. One such annotation was J.B.G., Annotation, Curfew in War Time, 147 A.L.R. 1270 (1943).
Words and Phrases “Atomic Force as the One-Minute-Method”—West Publishing Co., 1945—American Bar Association Journal
According to The Simon and Schuster Encyclopedia of World War II, on August 6, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, another B-29 Superfortress named Bock’s Car dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. On August 14, 1945, Japan unconditionally surrendered, thereby ending the Second World War.
Words and Phrases is an encyclopedic dictionary of judicially defined words and phrases. In this advertisement, West touts the “one-minute method” of finding cases on point by using Words and Phrases.
Shepard’s Citations “A Decision You Can Make Only Once”—Shepard’s Citations, 1949—Mercer Law Review
This early Cold War advertisement from Shepard’s Citations highlights free enterprise and anti-communism.
Emergency Business Control Law Reports “At Your Service for the Emergency”—Commerce Clearing House, Inc., 1951—American Bar Association Journal
Commerce Clearing House specialized in publishing materials related to taxation, labor, and government contracting issues. This Korean War advertisement doesn’t specifically mention the war effort; however, it has a military theme with the “saluting updates” in the upper corner.
Shepard’s Citations “Law and Justice”—Shepard’s Citations, 1952—Mercer Law Review
In 1948, The Frank Shepard Company moved from New York, New York to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and in 1951, it adopted the name Shepard's Citations, Inc.
This Korean War and Cold War advertisement has a "Red Scare” theme and highlights the differences between the legal systems of the United States and the Soviet Union.
Richards Law of Insurance “Atom Bomb Liability”—Baker, Voorhis & Co., 1953—Fordham Law Review
Richards Law of Insurance was one of the leading insurance law treatises. This Korean War and Cold War advertisement mentions “war risk,” as well as “atom bomb liability.”
Shepard’s Citations “Were the Pilgrims Communists?”—Shepard’s Citations, 1956—Nebraska Law Review
Shepard’s Citations had a history of interesting and colorful advertisements, and this Cold War advertisement is the most remarkable of all those I happened upon. For this advertisement, Shepard’s Citations combined anti-communism with the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims to produce a fascinating take on American history.
Shepard’s Citations “Every American Is Born With A Lawyer At His Side”—Shepard’s Citations, 1956—University of Cincinnati Law Review
This Cold War advertisement by Shepard’s Citations highlights the differences between the legal systems of the United States and the Soviet Union, specifically the right to legal counsel.
Labor Relations Reporter “Viet Nam & Labor”—The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., 1968—American Bar Association Journal
American involvement in the Vietnam War began in the early 1960s and ended with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. This advertisement by The Bureau of National Affairs is one of the few advertisements that directly refers to the Vietnam War and even shows an image of soldiers.
Business Organizations with Tax Planning “Pizza Franchise on the Moon”—Matthew Bender, 1970—American Bar Association Journal
In July 1969, the crew of the Apollo 11 went to the moon, resulting in the first lunar walk by Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin, Jr. This accomplishment by the United States effectively ended the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union.
This Matthew Bender advertisement plays on the lunar landing with a capitalism twist to it with the reference to a pizza franchise on the moon.
Patrick J. Charles (firstname.lastname@example.org) is interim director of the Chastek Library and assistant professor of law at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington.