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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • HIS MASK KEEPS HIM ON THE JOB
 

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Baltimore, U.S.A.: 1943

Baltimore, U.S.A.: 1943

May 1943. "Baltimore, Maryland. Building the SS Frederick Douglass. More than 6,000 Negro shipyard workers are employed at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, where this Liberty ship is being rushed to completion. Douglass, the noted orator and abolitionist leader, worked as a ship caulker in the vicinity of this yard before he escaped from slavery. Smiling from porthole of the dockhouse is rivet heater Willie Smith." 4x5 inch nitrate negative by Roger Smith for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

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Unsung Hero

Now, it's people like this who have made America great!

Charm City

Love the picture. I cherish every one you post from my hometown.

And thanks to young Mr. Smith here for his contribution to the war effort. Being a rivet heater in a ship's hull seems like a tough way to make a living.

EDIT: expanding on a previous comment....According to the National WWII Museum website the 70 on board when the Fredrick Douglass was torpedoed were rescued by the British ship Rathlin. The 70 consisted of 40 merchant seaman, 29 'armed guard' and one female stowaway.

Did Not Live Long

Torpedoed here in 1943 by a U boat. No casualties though.

Unusual liberties

Were taken at Fairfield, because they made riveted Liberty ships. The design was for a welded hull and a life of only five years, but there was a general lack of welders during this changeover period of ship design and fabrication. Fairfield riveted Liberty ships suffered none of the problems of the initial welded versions supposedly caused by brittle steel and not the welding quality. Whatever, they lasted a lot longer than five years; an historic photograph all right.

https://www.ssjohnwbrown.org/blog/2015/1/16/adopt-a-rivet

I see you, Shorpy!

Thank you for this terrific photo/commentary on recent news. Well done.

United We Stand

Thank you Shorpy for this wonderful picture of a true American citizen.

Making America Great

Roger Smith's photographs of the Baltimore shipyards show the difficult and dangerous work on the homefront that made victory in WWII possible. Bravo to the hard-working people of Baltimore who continue to help make America great!

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