I think my intense interest in World War II combined with my love for the Christmas season, have made this particular item my all-time favorite Disney Christmas piece (and it ranks pretty high on my World War II list as well). This was a Christmas card probably from 1943 that was sold to aid the American Woman’s Voluntary Services. I know the cards have been around for awhile due to a small find of them in California some ten years back, and so it may not be the rarest of items to present here at the Institute. However, I just love the artwork and all that it symbolizes and everything it contains. It represents the War-weary hope of the United States for the true meaning of Christmas, Peace on Earth. Santa Donald is flashing the Winston Churchill “V” for Victory sign with his left hand, and if that is not enough a very subtle arrangement of stars set behind the word “Merry” reinforces America’s hope for a quick end to the War and Victory once and for all. By Christmas of 1943 the Third War Bond Drive had been completed and the government was gearing up for another one. Here Donald is obviously showing his support for War Bonds with a Santa sack complete with a Battleship, Tank, Fighter, M-1 Garand, and a Christmas Tree for our men and women fighting the Axis. At the bottom is a note: “Proceeds to the American Woman’s Voluntary Services.” The A.W.V.S. was based on the British program (B.W.V.S.) that was formed to support the armed forces and to help civilians on the homefront. The volunteers of the A.W.V.S. did everything from driving ambulances to organizing canteens, selling war bonds to babysitting, making clothing to working in war industry in vital jobs. The A.W.V.S. most likely contacted Disney, like so many other organizations working for the war effort, and wanted something special to help assist their endeavors. As with most everything I have seen in the Disney Archives, Walt would have instructed his people to help, and the result was this Christmas Card.
The image does one other thing for me. It gives me the opportunity to once again ask for assistance with the book I am doing for the Walt Disney Family Foundation on Disney and the World War II effort. I have been researching this topic off and on for easily the last ten years (with a short “vacation” due to health concerns). However, it seems that weekly I am learning something new about this vast undertaking by Walt and his Studio. If you have information that may be of interest, or know of anyone that perhaps worked at the Studio during the War (yes, rare, but maybe a son or daughter), please let me know. Both the Walt Disney Family Foundation and myself will be very thankful (and I’ll be happy to acknowledge you in the book). At this point, the amount of material I have collected is close to 6000 pages of historical documents of all kinds relating to the Disney War effort. While it is a great deal, I know there is still a lot out there–especially in terms of first person accounts (diaries, journals, correspondence, interviews, and so forth). Please contact me at: [email protected] with anything you think might be of interest.
We do have a few extra for sale in the Disney History Institute Gift Shop at: A Donald Duck Christmas.