READER ADVISORY: Telstar Logistics cautions visitors that the links provided in this weblog post are extremely addictive. If you are currently at work, under deadline pressure, or trying desperately to avoid procrastination, you are advised to stop reading here. Right now. Before it's too late.
Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy, a former office worker,
painting the American insignia on airplane wing, 1942
DO NOT PROCEED if you find any of the following topics to be even remotely interesting: History, vintage color photography, adults, children, aircraft manufacturing, women in the workforce, Rosie the Riveter, and/or pre-World War II domestic life, consumer culture, military infrastructure, rural landscapes, urban street scenes, or industrial facilities.
Women workers install fixtures to a tail fuselage section of a B-17F Flying Fortress bomber
Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif., 1942
Should you choose to ignore these warnings, Telstar Logistics will happily claim credit for the consequences, which could include (but may not be limited to): rapture, joy, awe, fascination, probing curiosity, nostalgia, improved historical awareness, and fashion-envy.
Installing a 30-calibre machine gun in a Navy PBY plane, Corpus Christi, Texas, 1942
Still with us?
So glad you've decided to continue. Here's the scoop: Buried deep within the servers of the United States Library of Congress is a stunning archive of color photographs entitled, "America from the Great Depression to World War II: Color Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1939-1945"
Eagle Fruit Store and Capital Hotel, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942
As the LOC website explains, "The photographs of the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy E. Stryker, formerly an economics instructor at Columbia University, and employed such photographers as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Jack Delano, Marion Post Wolcott, Gordon Parks, John Vachon, and Carl Mydans. [...] The collection encompasses the images made by photographers working in Stryker's unit as it existed in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935-1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937-1942), and the Office of War Information (1942-1944)."
Tank crew standing in front of M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, 1942
Color photographs? From the 1930s and 1940s? How?
The LOC says, "There are 1,610 color images in the collection which date from between 1939 and 1945... Most of the 644 images produced by the FSA are 35 mm Kodachrome slides; a few are color transparencies in sizes up to 4x5 inches. These photographs depict life in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with an emphasis on rural areas and farm labor. The 965 images from the OWI are color transparencies in sizes up to 4x5 inches. These photographs focus on industrial facilities and women employees, railroads, aviation training, and other aspects of the mobilization effort for World War II."
Assembly line worker enjoying a well-earned lunch period
Douglas Aircraft Company Long Beach, Calif., 1942
It that sounds like your cup of tea, then feel free to begin. You can start at the collection homepage. Or, you can dive right in to the subject index. Pick a topic; say, airplane industry, perhaps, or maybe automobile service stations, or square dancing. (Hint: Click the "Gallery View" icon at the top left)
Square dance in rural home in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, 1940
You can view the images in a variety of sizes, or download uncompressed archival TIFF files to create your own museum-quality prints. It's all yours, gentle taxpayer, to explore and enjoy.
Just remember that you've been warned.
"America from the Great Depression to World War II: Color Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1939-1945" (Library of Congress online photo collection): LINK