|Chicago Steel Mill in Color - early 1940s - fireboat in foreground|
So what do I use for reference if most photos are black and white from that era? Indeed black and white was still the film of choice in the 40's and 50's, however, Kodachrome color transparency film was released in 1935 by Kodak and slowly found a following. These color photos can be found in the beautiful Morning Sun books released on almost a weekly basis it seems. If I was a hedge fund manager I'd probably buy every title released, but they are for now, an pricey item that I splurge on only for titles that are truly important to me - Steel Mill Railroads, Critters,...etc. For the budget minded there are a few online sources for color photos of this era. Truly the most outstanding photos in terms of resolution and composition are those on the National Archives site - I don't have the link but they are in the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information collection and date from 1935-1945. There are plenty of railroad and industrial shots, including a few dozen steel and coke photos, and browsing through the collection will give you a good feel for the colors of the time.
|East Chicago, IN Steel Mill - Check out the B&O E Units|
Another source came to me via todays New York Times. Charles W. Cushman, a traveling salesman, financial analyst, and most importantly, an amateur photographer, started taking photographs of virtually every subject conceivable in the 1930's using Kodachrome film. His travels took him throughout the United States and overseas. He donated 14,500 of his slides to his alma mater, Indiana University. They have digitized the collection and lower resolution images are available online . There are many industrial, marine, and railroad related photos in this collection, but sometimes just the mundane street shots are just as interesting in terms of colors of the 1950's. All the photos in this blog are from that collection.
|1940's Johnstown, PA - Lots of black, grey, brick tone, and earth tones|
|And there was also some vivid colors,....|