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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, September 14, 2014
World War II Victory Corps
Posted by Maureen

When I was looking for images of students for this space, I stumbled across a World War II program called the Victory Corps. Have you heard of it?



My Dad and several of my uncles were WWII veterans, but no one ever mentioned this school-based program. This image from the Library of Congress shows a teacher at Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles supervising a student using a lathe in September/October 1942.

Photographer Alfred T. Palmer took this picture for the Farm Security Administration. If you want to see the collection, go to the Library of Congress collection using this link.  

John W. Studebaker, the US Commissioner of Education, established the program Sept. 25, 1942. The goal was to train students in key areas relevant to the war effort, such as physical fitness, mathematics and science. As seen here, school also taught students how to operate machinery.

It's possible that someone in your family participated in the Victory Corps.  If it's not too late, ask them about what they did during World War II. Wartime contributions included a lot more than military service. Kids collected scrap metal and women tended Victory Gardens, and it appears high school students learned new skills to support the war.

Today the National World War II Museum in New Orleans offers a Victory Corps program for kids who volunteer at the museum. They learn more about that era of history, get to handle real artifacts and pass their knowledge on to visitors. Sounds like fun!

If you have pictures and stories relating to the WWII Victory Corps, please submit them and I'll run a second installment.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1940s photos | students | World War II
    Sunday, September 14, 2014 4:15:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, September 08, 2013
    Ancestral Occupational Portraits
    Posted by Maureen

    Thank you for sending in your photographs of ancestors at work! I've got quite a selection to show you. This is going to be a two-part article. There are too many to show in one blog post.

    editnegleyFrank and laundry wagon.jpg

    Wendy Negley owns this lovely picture (above) of her great-grandfather Frank Stefani with his laundry delivery wagon in Issaquah, Wash., in 1913. Frank immigrated from Sporminore, Trentino, Italy, but lived most of his life in Issaquah.

    Wendy says Frank owned the laundry and it was a family business. His son ran the company and Frank's daughters did all the washing and ironing, while he picked up and delivered to customers.

    editnorwood1945_BillSr04.jpg

    Carol Norwood's paternal grandfather, William John Jacobs (above), was a blacksmith. He learned his trade as an apprentice in Ireland and when he immigrated in 1907, he found employment in the United States.

    William worked for the John B. Stetson Co. in Philadelphia from March 1917 until October 1935. He served in World War I and during his service, worked in the locomotion machine shop.

    This 1945 photo was taken at the Johnsville Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, Pa. It was poster-size and on display at the center.

    editCorrigan harness maker.jpg

    Jackie Corrigan sent in two pictures. This one (above) shows her husband's grandfather Michael Charles Corrigan (right) (1844-1915) in his harness-making shop. She believes it was taken in Winnipeg, Manitoba, between 1903 and 1911.

    editcorriganHogue Thomas welder.jpg

    Norwood's second image (above) depicts her father, Thomas (1909-1972), who was a welder for the Canadian National Railways.

    What do all these pictures have in common?  They depict only men at work. All date from the first half of the 20th century.

    Next week I'll be back with an office scene and two images taken in a meat packing plant.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | 1910s photos | 1930s photos | 1940s photos | men | occupational
    Sunday, September 08, 2013 5:19:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, September 01, 2013
    Ancestral Occupations
    Posted by Maureen

    Do you know what your ancestors did for work? My paternal grandfather painted houses and so did his father. My maternal grandmother worked in a cotton mill alongside the rest of her family. Their stories were passed down in the family and evidence in documents like city directories and census records added more details.

    Throughout the centuries, men, women and even children labored to support their families. You may think you know the whole story behind your ancestral work history, but there could be missing pieces.

    Women often worked outside the home before marriage, then afterwards stayed home to raise children. However, many of these women also had jobs or juggled multiple volunteer positions. During World War II, women returned to the workforce to fill jobs once held by men. One of my aunts found employment in a ship-building factory. 

    In this picture a woman welds pieces of a cooling system at the Washtenaw County, Mich., Willow Run Bomber Plant in July 1942. A woman photographer, Ann Rosener, took the picture.  You can view more of these WWII photos at the Library of Congress website.

    8e11140vedit.jpg

    Child labor laws are a 20th century phenomena. Many of our grandparents (and earlier generations) worked in fields and factories.

    In support of child labor laws, photographer Lewis Hine documented children working in mills in the early 20th century. His captions sometimes include partial names and identifying details.

    Joe Manning fills in the rest. His Lewis Hine project is amazing! He takes those bits and pieces from the Hine captions, does some research, and then contacts relatives to tell them that he's found a picture of a family member working as a child.  In most cases, they have no idea that their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents worked as children.

    Photographs of our ancestors at work are not very common. Studio portraits rarely capture individuals in work attire.  I wish I had a picture of my grandfather painting or of my grandmother in a factory, but  I don't. If you have occupational photographs I'd love to see them. Follow the "how to submit your photo" guidelines. 

    This week, take a few minutes to interview family members about their work history. You might have a few surprises in store.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1940s photos | children | men | occupational
    Sunday, September 01, 2013 2:30:12 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, October 08, 2012
    Giant Grasshopper Mystery Photo—Solved!
    Posted by Maureen

    My Photo Detective magazine column appears in Family Tree Magazine. The October/November 2012 column is titled "Hoppin Fun" because the photo features a giant grasshopper sculpture. 

    grasshopperedit.jpg

    Larae Schraeder showed me the photo at the 2012 National Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati. The photo was in her collection of family pictures, and she thought the men might be relatives. In the magazine, I added up the clues but couldn't make the family connection for her.

    Well, it turns out the men aren't relatives. The real story is a fascinating tale of one man's hobby. 

    Thomas Talcott Hersey of Mitchell, SD, made this grasshopper. He's holding it down in the photo. Assisting him are his nephew Harry (Bart) Hersey and David John Hersey.

    Several of his descendants emailed me this weekend to tell me about this hopper and the other bugs that Hersey crafted. His inspiration came from a grasshopper swarm that killed his crops during the Dust Bowl era, and he called the metal creation Galloping Gertie.

    When he displayed his invention at Corn Palace Week in Mitchell and charged a nickel to view it, he earned enough to support his family for a winter.  Hersey ended up with a commission from a man who hired him to make a housefly, a flea, a black widow spider and a monarch butterfly to show at county fairs.

    Hersey's hobby of fashioning giant bugs out of wood, paper, cellophane, wire, string and oil cloth made him famous. In 1943, Hersey was a guest on Dave Elman's "Hobby Lobby" radio show on CBS. He spoke at length about how he made the insects; the grasshopper shown here even had a device to make its feelers move. Life Magazine and Popular Mechanics featured articles on his work.

    Hersey's relatives sent me several other pictures of his bugs and his relatives posing with them. They emailed me a postcard view of the scene above that had a printed caption: "Capturing Whopper Hopper near Mitchell, S.D. The largest grasshopper in existence 54 inches weighs 73 pounds."  It was taken and marketed by the Hersey Photo Service:
     


    Mystery solved! 

    Not all of the photos in a family collection depict relatives. Family members may have collected pictures of friends, neighbors and famous folks. In this case, we don't know if Larae's family actually saw Gertie or if they just bought the image for fun.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1940s photos | men | props in photos | unusual photos
    Monday, October 08, 2012 5:47:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, July 23, 2012
    Scenes of Moving Day
    Posted by Maureen

    I've been packing boxes for weeks getting ready to move houses. So how did our ancestors move their belongings in the past? They employed wagons and later, vans similar to the ones companies use today.

    Piketruck moving2.jpg

    Sharon Pike sent in this picture of her father-in-law's Greyhound Van Lines Truck that he drove.  It was taken in the 1940s. When he was on the road, Gene sent his wife Marion postcards nearly every day.

    Check out my Moving Day board on Pinterest. If you haven't used this site yet, it's like an online scrapbook of images found on the web. You can organize your Pinterest images in "boards" and see what others have "pinned" on their boards.  When you scroll over one of the images you can post a comment. Can't wait to see what you have to say!

    Enjoy! 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1940s photos | men | occupational | Photo fun | Photo-sharing sites
    Monday, July 23, 2012 6:35:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, April 02, 2012
    Census Taking in Pictures
    Posted by Maureen

    My fingers are itching to start searching through the 1940 census. I've read that the National Archives website crashed due to the number of folks online doing the same thing.  I'll wait a bit and try again. 

    In the meantime, take a peek at some census-related images.

    censusposter.jpg

    This image from the Library of Congress is a poster advertising that it was a patriotic duty to provide information for the census.

    census2.jpg

    In another photo from the Library of Congress, two women operate a new census machine.  The "unit tabulator" on the left is being operated by Ann Oliver. On the right is Virginia Balinger, Assistant Supervisor of the Inquiry section. (Love those shoes!)

    According to the caption, in 1870 it took seven years to compile statistics from the census, but this machine invented by Herman Hollerith fed census cards at the rate of 400 per minute. This machine was going to compile those stats in 2-1/2 years.  Each written bit of information was translated into codes that were punched on cards then fed into this machine.

    Enjoy your searching!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | 1940s photos | occupational | props in photos
    Monday, April 02, 2012 7:16:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, March 07, 2011
    Around the World with Family
    Posted by Maureen

    Reader Carol Norwood is a dedicated genealogist searching for more details of her mother's life in far off Indonesia.

    Her mother Cita Dromer lived in Sumatra from 1927 to 1940. About a month ago, she sent scan of her mother's Poezie book (a type of scrapbook for poetry and other keepsakes) to The Indo Project. According to the group's website, "The Indo Project is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and celebration of Indo culture and history through education and raising public awareness." They liked her mother's Poezie book so much they featured it in their newsletter. The album documents a fascinating period in her mother's life.

    There are, of course, a couple of mystery photos. Norwood knows who's depicted in them, but she's trying to track down a living person. poezie.jpg
    Since she's possibly still living, I'm not going to mention her name. When Carol's mother immigrated to the United States on the ship Poleau Tello, this South African girl was on board. The two became friends and wrote in each others album.

    Carol has tracked down the girl's family and is hoping for a reunion. My fingers are crossed too. I'll keep you posted.


    1940s photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, March 07, 2011 3:14:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]