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About the Photos

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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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Thread Mill Girls: 1916

Thread Mill Girls: 1916

June 19, 1916. Fall River, Mass. "Kerr Thread Mill. All over 16. Having fun with camera man. Good conditions in this mill. Caps to protect hair from dust and keep hair from getting tangled in machinery. These girls worked in an operating room, not the cloth room." Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Hair today ...

A friend's grandmother worked in a munitions factory in England during WWII and there were rules about the women wearing their hair up and under caps to prevent their hair being caught in machinery. One girl who was the "pet" of the floor boss used to keep her hair down because the fellow liked to play with her hair when he walked by.

One day, a bit of her long, beautiful hair got caught in the machine behind her and in less than a second she was scalped. It was something my friend's grandmother cried about 50 years later when she related the story to me.

Kerr's Thread

Found a spool of Kerr's "Lustre Twist" Thread in my mom's old sewing cabinet. has turned from white in places to slightly sepia from age, still has tag and was purchased from Taft & Pennoyer. Found info on this site most interesting about the company. Thank you.

Kerr Thread Mill ruins

Ruins of Kerr Thread Mill on Flickr:

Lizzie Borden

Just before shipping out of Boston in WW2 I went to see the Lizzie Borden home in Fall River. It was a rooming house at this time and I thought who would want to sleep in that?

Did some research a year ago and the Borden house was a bed & breakfast.

1987 Fire

The Kerr Thread Mill (owned by American Thread) burned down in 1987. Now it's the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center, U-Mass Dartmouth.

Lizzie Borden

That's who I always think of when I hear anything about Fall River, Massachusetts. Ax murders are probably not relevant to Shorpy, but anyway. These ladies must have known the rhyme.

Working conditions

Even without the photographer's note about the good conditions in the mill, you can tell it was true. The smiles on these ladies' faces seem to come very easily, which wouldn't be true if their working conditions were other than good.

That's what HE said

"All over 16. Having fun with camera man."

 
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Shorpy.com | 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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