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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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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.


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!"

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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