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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SPANGLES: THE CONTINENTAL CIRCUS

The Girl in the Bubble: 1942

The Girl in the Bubble: 1942

Bombardier nose section of a B-17F Navy bomber at the Douglas Aircraft plant in Long Beach, Calif. October 1942. The B-17F "Flying Fortress" is a later model of the B-17. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

 

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Day off?

I wonder about the posed nature of this photo. True, women of the past rarely went out of the house unless they were well-coiffed, but wearing of jewelry in the factory was VERY discouraged. A dainty gold watch like hers could easily get caught in a machine or tool and cause injury (possibly what happened to her bandaged finger?).

No doubt this was a posed affair. Knowing the lighting requirements of Kodachrome, there's no way this was a quick "hey you! Lemme grab a snap!". I just wonder how Palmer went about choosing his subjects.

[The large-format OWI Kodachromes taken indoors at assembly plants do not, as a general rule, purport to be candid documentary photography; most were carefully composed and lighted, and taken for a specific purpose. As we have pointed out before, that purpose was often to serve as studies for the artwork used in posters for recruitment, bond drives, safety campaigns, etc. Example below. As far as "jewelry" goes, there's nothing especially remarkable about a 1940s assembly worker wearing a wristwatch. - Dave]

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