JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Record Time: 1940

Record Time: 1940

May 1940. Crawford County, Illinois. "Daughter of Farm Security Administration rehabilitation borrower listening to phonograph." View full size. Medium format safety negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Looking for the Girl

I came across this photo in the Library of Congress American Memory archives today. It was taken by Vachon in Crawford County, IL where I currently live. Chances are someone still living here knows who this girl is because of the accompanying photographs in the LC collection. The search begins. I love a good mystery!

Crank it

Now in living color. Click to enlarge.


I love the Brunswick phonograph. I have an Empire phonograph that's almost exactly like it.

Two possibilities

I kind of wondered why she was sitting so close, and here are my guesses. 1) Deaf or hard of hearing. 2) Needle is bad and needs to be changed, or record is worn out. Given the conditions the girl lived under, it was probably both a worn-out record and a bad needle.

[Third possibility: John Vachon plops a chair down next to the phonograph and says "Sit here, kid." - Dave]


You got some kinda hold on me
You're all wrapped up in mystery

Brunswick Panatrope

This particular model would have been considered ancient technology by the time this little girl sat down to listen to it, indicating her level of poverty. The early Brunswicks played acoustic records, meaning the original artist or musician sang or played as loud as possible into a large horn leading to the recording stylus. Brunswick didn't start recording electrically until 1925, when they used the unusual Panatrope system (recording by light waves rather than a microphone). The wheels on this model suggest that it was a schoolhouse model that could be moved around easily, so my guess is this little girl's phonograph was donated to charity by a local school or church. My opinion, of course, hardly a fact.

[Panatrope was the name of the phonograph; Pallotrope was the recording system, which used a photoelectric microphone. Link 1, Link 2. - Dave]


Brunswick phonograph with Ultona head, ca. 1918-


Excellent image.. I love B & W...


What that box is that says "velvet" on the shelf?

[Tobacco. - Dave]

Record Time

The pensive, gentle smile on the face of this beautiful little girl reveals that the music has transported her mentally out of the austere and sparse reality of her worn surroundings. In her mind she may not be sitting on a broken chair in patched coveralls, wearing shabby shoes and contemplating a future of hard work and poverty, but instead is entertaining a young girls fantasy of a glamorous, prosperous life somewhere over the rainbow. One wonders what the record was that took her away to a better place, if only for a few minutes. This is a very appealing, provocative and thoughtful photo. Thank you.

[Or maybe John Vachon said Kid, sit in that chair and make like you're listening to a record. - Dave]

That is....

a VERY interesting 78 player.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site 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. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.