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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

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A Girl Can Dream: 1942

A Girl Can Dream: 1942

Winter 1942. Washington, D.C. "Young niece of Jewel Mazique, worker at the Library of Congress, who lives with her aunt." First in a series by John Collier for the Office of War Information. View full size.


I miss the large tuner dials

I miss the larger desk top radios. Now days radios are so small the tuner dial is hard to navigate.

A Girl can Dream

And as I saw this photo, I was listening to the Andrews Sisters singing that very song as the station did a farewell to Patty Andrews.

All American Five

That ubiquitous radio configuration which was likely in this, and the radios in every other American home, from the 30's until the 60's. One typical five tube complement: 12SK7, 12SQ7, 12SA7, 35Z5, 50L6.

One of these radios led to my discovery of the loops, arches and whorls we all have on our fingertips. The All American Five had no transformer to isolate the radio from the power lines. Plug the plug into the wall the 'wrong' way and you had 120 volts AC on every exposed metal part. Many of these radios even had metal cabinets. Being a curious 6 or 7 year old, I pulled the bakelite knobs off our Sylvania kitchen radio one day when Mom wasn't looking. When I touched the metal shaft that the knob had covered, I got a fairly good electric shock owing to the fact I was leaning on the sink at at he same time.

While the shock was not serious, it left my fingers tingling. Upon close examination of my slightly-numb digits, that's when I first noticed their curious patterns. I genuinely thought I had done something which had terribly damaged my fingers. I put the knobs back on and worried about what would happen once my 'disfigurement' was found out.

Station and Network and Some Options

I can't tell you what she's listening to, but the time is 9:35 p.m. (because she has her bedside lamp on). The radio is set to around 980 Kilocycles which in the Washington Market was WRC in 1941. At the time WRC was one of the mainstays of the NBC Red Network.

Red Network shows between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. for the 1942-43 were
Sundays: The American Album of Familiar Music
Mondays: Dr. I.Q.
Tuesdays: Fibber McGee & Molly
Wednesdays: Mr. District Attorney
Thursday: Bing Crosby
Friday: Plantation Party
Saturday: Can You Top This?

Emerson Aristocrat made of Opalon

The Emerson radio is a model 400 Aristocrat -- a bit more elegant than the model 400 Patriot which had a red-white-blue color scheme and stars on the knobs. The case was advertised to be made of "Opalon" which was Monsanto's trade name for their cast phenolic resin similar to Catalin (trademark of the American Catalin Corporation.) I can find very little reference to Opalon other than the image of a Monsanto ad at one vintage radio web site.

Catalin Radio

That Emerson radio is a New York model. The cabinet is made of Catalin. Catalin was a cast polymer, and is very sought-after by collectors. Depending on what color this one is (it appears to be marbled yellow), it is worth about $1,000 today.

[Edit]: I was looking at a website to determine what model it was, and it said "New York," but apparently that just referred to place of manufacture. It's actually a Model 400, made in 1940.

Aunts & Emerson Radios

Funny, I used to live at my aunt's for a while each summer. There was also an Emerson radio in each of my aunt's guest bedrooms.


What a stunning young lady. Makes me wonder what radio show or song she's getting lost in.

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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