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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 • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Nacelle Belles: 1942

Nacelle Belles: 1942

October 1942. "Two assembly line workers at the Long Beach, California, plant of Douglas Aircraft Company enjoy a well-earned lunch period. Nacelle parts of a heavy bomber form the background." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

The magic of Kodachrome

The vibrant colours, the tone, texture and the almost 3D quality which Palmer achieves in this photograph are truly stunning. There is a piece of software in existence which digital photographers use to try to replicate the Kodachrome effect; all it does is increase the saturation, it cannot come close to the magic of the real thing.

Echo

I echo Joe on this one.I might add as a nurse I see fewer and fewer of these fine people.

Nacelle Belles: 1942

As a man who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, there is an almost overwhelming nostalgia that I feel when I look at these idealized photos of young women from that period. No doubt, many men my age might be longing for the days when women were much more unequal, usually stayed at home, and slaved over the stove to cook memorable meals for their families. But I don't think that is what attracts me to these photos of women who are fashionable, yet ordinary, not glamorous. These women remind me of my mother. Most people who grew up in this era have lost their parents by now, and the missing of one's mother never ends. My mother and father were both modest people, especially my mother, and I don't think modesty is as common now, nor is it as valued - not by a long shot.

Not that far from Anaheim

The brooch that woman is wearing makes her look like an usherette at Disney's Enchanted Tiki room.

In Shorpyland

In Shorpyland, everyone is fit and attractive.

I WANT TO LIVE THERE!

No. 531

is oh so cute. Sigh.

Out of Time?

No matter how many times I look at these Kodachrome photographs I never get tired of them, I always find myself transported back in time to the 1940s, just seeing how colourful the young girls dress up even for just going to work in an aircraft factory is a stark contrast to the black and white movies of the day. I've always had a feeling for the US during this period even today I love watching "On the Town" (sad I know) with Gene Kelly just to see some of the colour footage of New York in the 40s.

Love the 40's Working Women

These women are amazing - maintaining their glamour while working and supporting the war effort. Really fantastic. Thanks for this Shorpy - I dress 40's style and these pictures are a tremendous resource in color!

Who could forget those red socks?

We've seen the lady on the right previously:
http://www.shorpy.com/node/2592

Maybe she started the fashion?
http://www.shorpy.com/node/2595

How staged were these?

I know that the majority of these women were actual workers, but how many were just models that they brought in for these photo shoots?

[These photos are not "staged," they're posed. Using actual employees. - Dave]

Beautiful girls, walk a little slower....

...when you walk by me,..." I can hear Tony Bennett now with that appropriate song for this alluring photo. The one sitting down has a pencil tucked behind her right ear. Years ago anyone having to do paperwork often stored their always-needed pencil behind their ear, don't see that much anymore. Last but not least, my father who was born in 1909 enjoyed wearing red socks which made him a little different and quirky, even in the olden days. He was a fun guy (not the mushroom kind), very intelligent and sociable. This picture really captures a day on the homefront in WW2.

Those awful shoes

Look at the pitiful shoes they're wearing. My mother was a 23-year-old bookkeeper then, and she remembers the sacrifices that were gladly made for the war effort. She says that because so many materials were scarce, the only shoes she could buy were made from substandard material, and quickly fell apart. Also, silk and nylon were unavailable, so the only stockings she could get were rayon, which were horrible.

Les Belles

Once again the OWI photographers chose attractive women to include in their pictures. I guess they were trying to boost wartime morale and have a little fun themselves. Beats photographing the machinery.

Delicious

Ooh, look at those lunchboxes!! The one I had growing up was NEVER this cool.

Palmer Picks

In addition to being an excellent photographer, Alfred Palmer sure knew how to pick his subjects. Hubba-hubba.

 
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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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