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Railroad Switchman at Proviso Yard (editor's title)

Switchman at Proviso Yard, Chicago
Arthur Nelson Spencer Jerdee (1914-93), a switchman for the Chicago & North Western Railway in Chicago, shown leaning on a switch at the railroad's Proviso Yard in April 1943. The switch separated Yards 7 and 8, with the old Yard 8 shanty in the background. Photographer Delano and the Library of Congress staff gave his surname as "Gerdee," but his daughter and his obituary provided the correct spelling, Jerdee being a fairly common Norwegian surname. Jerdee was born in New Richmond, Wisconsin (on the Soo Line and amidst a pod of Norwegian settlements), but grew up in Arkdale (C&NW nearby), worked for the C&NW in and around Chicago from 1940 to 1975 and retired as a conductor. He continued to live in the Chicago area until 1992 when he returned to the neighborhood of Arkdale. He was an active Shriner and he and his wife Lorna (Odekirk) had two daughters. The informant daughter lives near Las Vegas, Nevada. Familial peregrinations like these are fairly typical of railroad families, since railroad management often asked railroaders to relocate. Like Jerdee and other of Delano's portrait subjects, some return to home ground in retirement.
Source Library of Congress
Coverage Spatial, Chicago, Illinois; Temporal, April 1943
Rights Library of Congress
Date Created 1943
Resource Type
Depicted Railroad
Location Chicago, Illinois
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.
Collection Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information
Image ID LC-USW36-575
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