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Drill and Tool: 1942

Drill and Tool: 1942

August 1942. "Women at work for victory. Republic Drill and Tool Company, Chicago. These young employees of a Midwest drill and tool plant are operating cylindrical grinders which taper drills to specified size. Used in the manufacture of guns, ships and tanks, these drills demand precise and accurate grinding." Medium format negative by Ann Rosener, Office of War Information. View full size.


Safety glasses

I have an old set of safety glasses that look just like these. They're in a metal case with the American Optical logo with the words "Wear these goggles Protect your eyes" stamped on top. I think it's interesting that everyone in the picture is wearing them. It wasn't always mandatory to wear them when operating machinery in those days. It's unfortunate that attitudes putting appearance ahead of safety persist. In my view, Ms 103 is quite attractive.

The machines

Just yesterday, I was holding a twist drill and wondering how they were made. Now I know.

Progressive, in its time

RD&T was considered a very progressive company, relatively speaking. With women making up nearly all of its workforce, it was the first war production company in the Chicago area to add a beauty salon onsite, and to reward exceptional performance with free cosmetics and beauty treatments. In 1943 its director of health and personnel presented a study at a conference of engineers that concluded: "It is very difficult for many men to learn it is impossible to order a woman to do anything, but they will literally work their fingers to the bone for a man they like if they are asked to do things in a courteous manner."

She ground with precision all day

... then partied all night!

Clean & Neat

Look how clean and neat the machinery is. Perhaps brand new or just well-kept? And the surrounding workplace is spotless. Not what I might expect in a room where they must be creating uncountable metal shavings as they grind and taper their drills.

In the name of victory

Drill baby, drill!

Inspected by #103

Were those safety gasses of the day? Maybe they magnified? That woman with the poodle hairstyle was clearly a cut-up.


The eyewear that Ms 103 is wearing does nothing to enhance her beauty. Assuming they were some sort of safety glasses, as all the women appear to be wearing them, they were a necessary accouterment. Not that today's goggles would have made them look any better.

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