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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Watch the Fingers: 1942

Watch the Fingers: 1942

October 1942. Metal parts are placed on masonite by this employee before they slide under the multi-ton hydropress at North American Aviation in Inglewood, California. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

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Some Staging (*)

I have done work like that and it is quite possible to have filthy hands only. (I tend to rub my nose so I always get a nice stripe there as well.)

The lower part of her smock is hidden in shadows but I suspect it matches her hands.

All of these nice Kodachrome prints of women working on the war effort are staged to a degree. It may be the worker doing her job, but by the time you set up the lights and the tripod it is not going to be candid.

I have also noticed in some of the previous photos that there was no actual work being done.

[Posed, not "staged." There's a big difference. As we've pointed out elsewhere on this site, many of these large-format Kodachromes were made as studies for poster illustrations (example below). They were never intended as candid shots of people at work. - Dave]


She has a nice hairdo, perfect lipstick, nice teeth, and is all clean and neat except the hands. Maybe this is a commercial for hand lotion.


The way she is smiling maks this photo look like a commercial. "Would you like to place metal parts on masonite? It sure is tons of fun!"

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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