Colorized Photos of Women Building War Planes in the 1940s

We’ve seen colorized portraits of popular and historical figures, but Webmaster Dave over at allows us to see history in an entirely new light with his ongoing submissions of large-format Kodachromes. Dave’s website generally focuses on extracting pictures from the online catalog of the Library of Congress and sharing them with a wide audience, but his personal effort to adjust the color and contrast of these archived transparencies has amplified their reality and even enlivened them.

On its own, the Library of Congress provides an insightful look at America’s rich history, but it is the images from the 1940’s (1940-1943, in particular) that seem to have piqued Dave’s interest. His gallery on Shorpy reveals countless photos from this wartime, many of which were captured by photographer Alfred T. Palmer on color reversal film, taken for the Office of War Information; an agency created to release war news, promote patriotism, and recruit women to work.

The photos from this archive feature plenty of 1940’s women putting a little elbow grease into their vocational work. Instead of our expected vision of the vintage mother and wife primping, nursing, and cleaning, we’re given a taste of some hard laboring technicians that were vital in building aircrafts during World War II. By exhibiting a polychromatic set of photos, the images are no longer just recorded pieces of history that we feel a disconnect from. They appear to be a more life-like, relatable series of photos.

Alfred T. Palmer website
via [Empty Kingdom, Shorpy]

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