HEADER PHOTO | ALFRED T. PALMER
Between 1939 and 1944, the US Government's Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWA) made approximately 1,600 colour photographs detailing various aspects of American life, to "introduce America to Americans". In addition to the 175,000 better known black-and-white images made in the same period, they formed an extensive pictorial record, and allow a riveting (pun intended) vantage point into a time and place that a lot of us weren't privy to the first time around - the Depression and early years of World War II.
Widespread male enlistment in the war effort left gaping holes in the industrial labor force, with women taking up work in positions previously closed to them. The aviation industry saw the greatest increase in female workers, who made up only 1 percent of the total industry workforce in pre-war years, to 310,000 workers or 65 percent in 1943. According to the Labor Dept, if you've sewed on buttons, or made buttonholes on a machine, you can learn to do spot welding on airplane parts. If you've done fine embroidery, or made jewelry, you can learn to do assembly on time fuses, radio tubes. If you've used an electric mixer in your kitchen, you can learn to run a drill press. If you've ironed your sheets in an electric mangle, you can learn to run a blueprint machine.
We've compiled some images from the FSA/OWA Photography Program below, and the collection is available to view here.
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