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Skillet Dinner: 1942

Skillet Dinner: 1942

March 1942. "Jewel Mazique cooking dinner after a hard day's work in the Library of Congress." Helping to lay the groundwork for Shorpy, perhaps. Large-format negative by John Collier for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Details of her life

According to the SSI death index, this lady was born in 1914 and passed away at the age of 93 in 2007. She looks like a fine lady. I hope she enjoyed life, and may she rest in peace.

Two thumbs up from this librarian

Great photo of a lovely woman who spent her days in the most wonderful place: a library. (I do, too, but Jewel's figure puts mine to shame!) Oh, and thanks to diloretta for pointing out that acorn necklace!

A Quality of Life Worth Fighting For

Washington Post, 26 May, 1992.

… One federal photo unit's 1942 relocation to the Office of War Information, write historians Barbara Orbach and Nicholas Natanson in the spring-summer Washington History, "confirmed an already growing trend away from FSA's trademark stark depictions of America's ill-fed, ill-clothed, and ill-housed, especially on declining farmlands, in favor of more encouraging views of bustling activity in American defense centers and a quality of life worth fighting for."

So it was that in 1942 OWI photographer John Collier set out to record a day in the life of black Washingtonian Jewel Mazique: working at the Library of Congress, chatting with her white friends, serving dinner to immaculately dressed children and volunteering overtime to help the war effort.

Orbach and Natanson are careful to point out that there was nothing unusual about such a life. But they are equally careful to observe that the typical day for black female residents of the District of Columbia during World War II was less picturesque and less a credit to freedom's national seat. Though the Library of Congress was in those days at the forefront of government agencies in integrating its work force—an interesting tale in itself, no doubt—the college-educated Mazique remained a file clerk long after others at her level had risen to clerk-typist or better.

Family Heirloom

I still have, and use, my father's well seasoned cast iron skillets. I have three different sizes. Odd thing about this photo, she isn't wearing an apron. Standard item in that time period for kitchen duty. And the paper towels were quite the luxury at that time. Pricey.

Cast Iron Skillet

I still use my mother's and the food turns out great! This woman is just gorgeous!

I'm guessing

That's fried chicken breast in the skillet. The piece she's about to flip is too big for a pork chop. Either way, my mouth is watering!!!

Some Things

never change. Paper towels and a well seasoned cast iron skillet.

Heads Up!

It looks like the paper towel holder is slowly coming adrift. Neat peek into her culinary expertise. A very handsome and competent looking young lady.


Looks like pork chops, cooking in a cast iron skillet. Reminds me of my childhood in the '60s. I'll bet they were good.


I like her acorn necklace.

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