1930s-40s in Colour
March 5, 2012 10:12 AM   Subscribe

The Library of Congress has posted a series of colour photos from the 1930s and 1940s online.

The link I chose starts at page 13 and continues on page 14. It focuses on women in factories, with some others mixed in, but the entire series is quite impressive.
posted by gman (17 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
posted by lazaruslong at 10:17 AM on March 5, 2012

MetaFilter has posted a series of FPPs about color photos from the 1930s and 1940s.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:18 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

They sure knew how to make tools and uniforms back then. On the downside, everyone looks 20 years older than their listed ages.
posted by DU at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2012

everyone looks 20 years older than their listed ages

Anyone know why that is? I would have guessed the hairstyles, but looking at the photos (especially of the women) it's not just the hairstyles. Nutrition? Differences in makeup use? Artifacts of older cameras?
posted by straight at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2012

I'm going to guess skin scarring and lesions from things like smallpox and measles.

Also, the "day laborers" picking cotton pretty interesting. Not much changed there other than the fact that our current "day labor" underclass is mostly a different ethnicity now.
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on March 5, 2012

Still my favorite, for the kid in the middle.

Definitely a town that lives up to its name.
posted by Lazlo at 11:41 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Previously -- but it seems to be rediscovered every year, each time with a better interface -- and now, Flickr is involved.
posted by Rash at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2012

I think smoking and being in places full of smoke were also factors in skin aging, as was the non-existence of sunscreen.

I am so jaded now that color photos have to be from way earlier than that to fill me with wonder at their color-ness. But these are interesting photos.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Holy crap thanks for those Shackleton pictures.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:57 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's a double but I think there are additional photos in the collection this time. Last time I mentioned that this picture was my hometown. Here's the same location I shot last year.
posted by Mcable at 12:58 PM on March 5, 2012

Mod note: Folks, there are two parts to flagging and moving on. The first is flagging. The second is moving on. We have deleted the comments which appeared to be doing neither. Please carry on> Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:28 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love photos like this. Recent enough to feel connected to in some way, yet still well outside of my existence. I can't help but stare at these and wonder who these folks were and what their lives 'around' these activities must have been like. Then Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" pops into my head, and the spell is unceremoniously broken.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 1:35 PM on March 5, 2012


I'm so jaded now, for me it's a joy to see such gloriously staged shots without any ironic intent.
posted by marvin at 4:13 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Several of the airplane-related photos here were taken at the Douglas Air plant in Long Beach, CA.

My great-aunt Pinky (she had red hair, thus the nickname) worked in that plant. She drafted rivet layouts for the workers to follow when building the planes. After the rivets were placed, she checked that they were placed correctly and were secure.

During the war, the entire plant was covered with camouflage netting. When photos of the camouflage netting was posted about on barnstormers.com last year, I asked my cousin, her daughter, if Pinky had ever told her about the netting. Indeed, my cousin already knew all about it, but none of the younger generation in our family had ever seen a picture of it until last year.

During this same period, Pinky was going to Long Beach Community College at night to take classes to further her career as an engineer. She was an early trailblazer on that path for her gender, and worked for many years at Westinghouse among a department that was otherwise entirely male.

It's really a delight to get such a view of a world she moved in when a young woman.
posted by jocelmeow at 5:48 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a bunch of photos in this set from my hometown. Really interesting to see what it looked like so long ago.
posted by rednikki at 10:25 PM on March 5, 2012

I have puzzled about apparent ages in old photos myself. I am mostly of a mind that it is mostly, if not entirely, about the intersection of fashion and expectation. The fashions of hair, clothing and makeup, and essentially everything else in the photos, are entirely entwined with our idea of people of that generation. (I'm avoiding saying "parents" since probably for most readers, it's grandparents). Even youth look oddly older than their years.
posted by Goofyy at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

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