Blacksmith John Kelsch at his forge in the blacksmith shop at the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad's roundhouse at Blue Island, Illinois, in April 1943. For a portrait of a blacksmith's helper in the same shop, see record 2310.
FSA-OWI Railroad Photography
Library of Congress
Spatial, Blue Island, Illinois; Temporal, April 1943
Jack Delano had careers as both a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, beginning in 1942, and a composer of music, who grew up on Puerto Rican folk songs. Born in Russia, he came to the U.S. in 1923. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1932, and got a job with the Farm Security Administration because of an impressive photographic project about mining conditions in the Pennsylvania anthracite area. As part of an FSA project he visited Puerto Rico and settled there in 1946. He photographed railroads extensively for the FSA and its successor, the Office of War Information.
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.
Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information