The art of photography is a blip on the radar as far as history is concerned, considering it’s less than 200 years old. First photographs were often blurry, although we must admit they were huge accomplishments in and of themselves. That being said, coming across well-preserved, clear historic images is a rare treasure. The US Library of Congress has gone through the laborious process of digitizing tens of thousands of historic images, all of which are available online at its Flickr stream.
We’ve put together 50 of our favorites from the 1940s on color transparency, photochrom prints from around the world, Civil War ambrotypes and three-color glass separations of the Russian Empire. We highly recommend you reserve at least an hour of your time to head on over to the Library of Congress Photostream on Flickr and look through over 20,000 amazing historic photographs. Other great sets not to be missed include FSA Administration favorites, American Baseball and the Jazz Age.
1940s in Color (slides):
Shepherd with his horse and dog on Gravelly Range, Madison County, Montana, August, 1942, by Russell Lee
Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies, June, 1942, by David Bransby
Japanese-American camp, war emergency evacuation, Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California, 1942 or 1943.
Crowds of French patriots line the Champs Elysees to view Allied tanks and half tracks pass through the Arc du Triomphe, after Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, by Jack Downey.
A good job in the air cleaner of an army truck, Fort Knox, Ky. This soldier, who serves as truck driver and mechanic, plays an important part in keeping army transport fleets in operation, June 1942, by Alfred T. Palmer.
C. & N.W. R.R., Mrs. Irene Bracker, mother of two children, employed at the roundhouse as a wiper, Clinton, Iowa, April, 1943, by Jack Delano.
M-3 tanks in action, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, June 1942 by Alfred T. Palmer
United Nations Fight for Freedom : Boy Scouts in front of Capitol, they help out by delivering poster to help the war effort, 1943, by Jon Rous
Japanese-American camp, war emergency evacuation, Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California, 1942 or 1943 by Russel Lee
Mrs. Eloise J. Ellis has been appointed by civil service to be senior supervisor in the Assembly and Repairs Department at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. She buoys up feminine morale in her department by arranging suitable living conditions for out-of-state employees and by helping them with their personal problems. August, 1942 by Howard R. Hollem.
Woman putting on her lipstick in a park with Union Station behind her, Washington, D.C., 1943.
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942 by John Vachon
Jim Norris and wife, homesteaders, Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940, by Russell Lee
Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in California, June 1942, by Alfred T. Palmer.
Sailor at the Naval Air Base wears the new type protective clothing and gas mask designed for use in chemical warfare, Corpus Christi, Texas. These uniforms are lighter than the old type, August 1942 by Howard R. Hollem.
Eagle Fruit Store and Capital Hotel, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942 by John Vachon.
Women workers install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17 bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, Calif. Better known as the “Flying Fortress,” the B-17F is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the south Pacific, Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude, heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men, and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions, October, 1942, by Alfred T. Palmer