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The Party Committee: 1943

December 24, 1943. Washington, D.C. Christmas Eve party given by Local 203 of the United Federal Workers of America, Congress of Industrial Organizations. View full size. Medium-format safety negative by Joseph Horne.

December 24, 1943. Washington, D.C. Christmas Eve party given by Local 203 of the United Federal Workers of America, Congress of Industrial Organizations. View full size. Medium-format safety negative by Joseph Horne.


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Would it be typical to have an unsegregated Union party then?

45s and holes

The record changer system worked really well. You could stack up to ten 45s on the spindle and they'd drop down, one at a time, to play. The main reason for buying new players was the speed. Most (all ?) 78 rpm players only turned at 78. 45rpm players played at 33 and 78 as well.

You could get little plastic inserts for the records with the big holes, converting them to fit on the players with the narrow spindles, and for when you only wanted to play them one at a time. Record shops used to give them away for nothing.

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LPs and 45s

It wasn't a case of the recording companies being unable to make up their minds, it was a good old fashioned format war caused by a rivalry between companies (see Sony's Betamax vs JVC's VHS, or Sony's Blu-ray vs Toshiba's HD-DVD). The LP was developed by Peter Goldmark at CBS with the first releases coming in 1948. The early notion was to be able to have complete pieces of classical music on a single side (as opposed to having to change the record every four minutes or so). The 45 (the one with the big hole) was developed at RCA Victor. The purpose of the big hole was supposedly to accommodate an automatic changer mechanism, but it also meant that you couldn't just modify your old 78 record player, you had to buy an entirely new machine...from RCA Victor. Apparently CBS offered to share the LP technology with RCA but the personal animosity between CBS boss William Paley and David Sarnoff was so great that Sarnoff rejected the offer.

The 45 was a direct replacement for the 78s we see in this photo - lighter and less prone to breakage (and ideal for radio stations because there's a single song on each side) but the LP, which was roughly the same size as the 78 won the war.

I'm even older, I guess...

Those aren't "LP's", they are the ancestors of LP's. They are what we called "78s's"....records that played at 78 rpm. They only held one song per side. A bunch of these could be gathered into a booklike "album" with a several sleeves that held, maybe 12 songs. The term "album" persisted in the 50's when the new vinyl 12 inch records came out. These played at a much slower 33 1/3 rpm so 6 or more songs per side were possible - a whole album could now be put on one record. It was these that came to be called LPs, for long-playing. "Singles" in the LP era were smaller, with one song per side, and played at 45 rpm. (They were the ones with the big hole in the centre - then, as now, people in the recording business had trouble deciding on universal formats. Records came in other sizes too)

The stuff

The box with three knobs is a PA amplifier. Typically these were used for announcing stuff as well as playing records. they had a microphone input or two and a phono input. That looks like a loud 20 watt one.

The upper right corner shows a speaker in a home-made mount. Apparently the builder didn't know that speakers work a lot better bass-wise when put in an enclosed box.


I don't know what that item is, but I'm pretty sure those records aren't "LPs". They're probably 78 rpm records, which were 10" or 12" but only contained one song on each side. 33 1/3 rpm "long playing" records with five or six songs on each side came along years later.

[Long-playing 33 1/3 rpm records -- LPs -- made their debut in 1948. - Dave]


That looks like an amp--you can see the speaker in the top right corner of the photo.

I'm young enough to know...

That those are records as well. They haven't disappeared and actually they're making a comeback of sorts at least here in the UK. Anyhow, those ladies are ready to party and I believe the box you're referring to looks like an tube amp used to power the speakers. The slots and heat vents on the sides for the vacuum tubes indicate that much at least. Looks like it was a fun night though, records everywhere, much the same at my house to this day after a party and I bet the lady on the right was just about to ask the DJ to keep an eye on her bag while she went for another whirl on the dance floor.

Okay, I'm old enough to know

Okay, I'm old enough to know those are records (or LPs as some call them). But what is that box in the middle with the three dials and the vents on it? Some sort of amp or speaker?


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