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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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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Toy Story: 1942

Toy Story: 1942

February 1942. A.C. Gilbert Company, New Haven, Connecticut. "Conversion. Toy factory. Stephanie Cewe's skill with this electric screwdriver has been turned to the aid of Uncle Sam's war machine. Stephanie used to assemble toy locomotives; today, she uses the same screwdriver to assemble parachute flare casings." Photo by Howard Hollem, Office of War Information. View full size.

 

Toy Story II

World War II was the second time that AC Gilbert's factory was converted to war production. It was also converted during World War I; Gilbert's brother served in that war.

Also during World War I, the War Production Board wanted to cancel the normal Christmas giving of toys to children and replace them with Liberty Bonds. Gilbert traveled to Washington to argue against that idea and became known as the man who saved Christmas.

Oops!

I believe Stephanie was actually known as Stephan until the day the screwdriver slipped.

Ring zoom please

That ring looks like a Buddha, or an angel or a baby.

Erector Square


View Larger Map
Erector Square is still there. The A.C. Gilbert Company was best known as maker of the Erector Set.

Satisfied Customers

This lady should be pleased. Countless children were undoubtedly delighted by the toy locomotives she assembled. Equally pleased were Marines and soldiers in foxholes when their aircraft dropped these flares to neutralize the enemy's nighttime infiltration capabilities.

Toy Story #2

I was thinking the same thing about that huge screwdriver.
I'm glad he said it as the second photo is delightful.
I like the trains too.

Fark Off

One quick look at certain aspects of this picture demands Fark action.

O-27

A.C. Gilbert was making 1/64 scale trains, (O Scale is 1/48, and HO is 1/87) running on O-Gauge track, popularly known as O-27, so yeah, those toy trains were pretty substantial.

Those toy trains must have been huge!

No way she used that "screw driver" to assemble toy locomotives. Nice story though.

[Think again. Click to enlarge. - Dave]

Pretty Woman

There probably was some written or unwritten directive to those OWI lensmen. Photograph only the attractive ones, it's better for the public morale.

Great Restraint

Was exercised in the writing of the title for this one!

Factory Babes

Judging by the Shorpy shots from WWll, all the pretty women had factory jobs. Who said working in a factory is boring? One just has to choose the right period in history.

 
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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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