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19: Wartime Engine Wiper, Mrs. Dorothy Lucke (editor's title)

World War II significantly reduced the number of men in the civilian work force, and women around the country stepped into jobs traditionally reserved for men. Mrs. Dorothy Lucke (1909-86) was such a woman, and this color portrait of her has become emblematic of the era. She broke the "grease ceiling" by becoming an engine wiper, as indicated by her stained right hand. She leans against a locomotive wheel at the Chicago & North Western's Clinton, Iowa, yard. When servicemen returned to their jobs, many women like Mrs. Lucke lost their jobs. She later worked for the Clinton Garment Company for 25 years. Her husband, Albert Lucke, died in 1948, and in 1985, she married Isaac Leslie, who survived her. The photographer was Jack Delano, who worked for the federal government's Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information, a New Deal and World War II agency that hired creative young photographers to document ordinary American lives and living conditions. Delano traveled the country, photographing the war at home, particularly railroads. FSA-OWI photographers pioneered in using color film.

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Alternate Title Railroad History in a Nutshell
Source Library of Congress
Coverage Spatial, Clinton, Iowa; Temporal, April 1943
Rights Library of Congress
Date Created 1943-11-04
Resource Type
Extent Not available
Depicted Railroad
Location Clinton, Iowa
Image Type Portrait
Creator Description Jack Delano (1914-97) had careers as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, beginning in 1940, and a composer of music. Born in Ukraine, he came to the U.S. in 1923. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1932, and because of an impressive photographic project about mining conditions in the Pennsylvania anthracite area, got a job with the FSA. He photographed railroads extensively for the FSA and its successor, the Office of War Information. He worked particularly in Chicago, then to the Pacific Coast, often using color--a new medium at the time. He concentrated on showing how the railroad industry worked and on the people who did the work. As part of another FSA project he visited Puerto Rico and settled there in 1946, becoming an important composer of serious Puerto Rican music, much of it derived from folk tunes.
Comments The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information began as a New Deal program of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency as a part of the Resettlement Administration, which was established to combat poverty. It evolved into the modern Farmers Home Administration that helps farmers acquire property. The FSA engaged photographers to document rural America, resulting in iconic images by such notable photographers as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Gordon Parks. After the U.S. declared war on Japan and also joined its European allies in their strike against Germany in 1941, the government created the Office of War Information, whose photographers documented America's mobilization from 1942 through 1943. (The war ended in 1945.) They concentrated on topics like industry and women and minorities in the work force. FSA and OWI photography efforts were led by Roy Emerson Stryker, and the resulting 108,000 images are now at the Library of Congress. Many document railroad-related subjects, especially World War II home-front activities.
Collection Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information
Where Published Frequently published; see "Representations of Railroad Work, Past and Present," pamphlet, Center for Railroad Photography & Art, 2004; "Let's Work," 2006.
Image ID LC-USW36-633
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