Today is Labor Day, a national holiday in the United States. It’s supposed to be a day when we celebrate the contributions workers have made to the strength and prosperity of our country. The gallery below is a collection of images from the exhibit at the Connecticut Historical Society Museum I visited in August. Most of the images have a (sometimes lengthy) caption that explains it. That’s my post, just the gallery. And, since the Editor cannot view the captions without encountering the Block Editor, I’m giving her the holiday off. Any typos you find are my fault.
If you are in the US (or anywhere that celebrates this day) I hope you enjoy the holiday. And, if you’re in Connecticut, please consider visiting, joining or supporting the Connecticut Historical Society.
Weapon and ammunition assembly in the Cold Firearms Company in Hartford, CT.
President Roosevelt acted to gear up production of military equipment, initially to supply England and other allies in the war against Germany. He invited William Knudsen
William Knudsen accepted President Roosevelt’s request that he manage military production. He gave up a $300,000-a-yeas job to join the Defense Advisory Council – service for which he was paid a dollar a year by the US government.
Fred Geier, president of the Cincinnati Milling Machine company visited Germany during the 1930s and saw that war was coming. He stepped up production at his company. During the war, Geier’s company produced a new machine tool (the tools required to build everything else) every 17 minutes. Total American machine tool production nearly doubled by the end of 1941 and continued to grow after that.
Boeing manufactured the two most heavily used bombers during the war. The B-17 Flying Fortress working the European theater and the B-29 Super Fortress used in the Pacific. Boeing built almost 13,000 B-17s and almost 4,000 B-29s. Each B-29 contained more than 165,000 individual parts. Meanwhile Pratt ad Whitney, here in Connecticut, manufactures over 170,000 Twin Wasp engines which powered B-24s, C-47s, F4F Wildcats, F6F Hellcats and the P-47 Thunderbolt.
The Arsenal of Democracy was the production effort that supplied the US military and our allies with the equipment necessary to win the second world war.
Harley Davidson, founded in nearby Springfield, MA continued building motorcycles for the war effort. They produced over 90,000 motorcycles during the war. Caterpillar Tractor build diesel equipment used by Navy “Seabees” and combat engineers to produce power and build landing strips. Caterpillar doubled its workforce during the war and produced more than 51,000 vehicles for the military and in use building the 1,600 mile long ALCAN Highway to Alaska.
Connecticut was a center of precision manufacturing before the war and continued to supply critical components during the war, including propellers built by Hamilton Standard in my adopted home town of Windsor Locks, CT.
Connecticuts awesome manufacturing capacity was put to work supplying bearings, munitions, ball bearings, parachutes, 74 submarines and hundreds of surface ships.
On June 25, 1941, President Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting racial discrimination in hiring for national defense work. The military remained segregated but industrial assembly lines were integrated. This was not without conflict. Racial tensions were common and a race riot in Detroit caused over $2 million in property damage and resulted in 34 deaths. This poster mentions that “racial inequalities would have to be confronted in the postwar era.” That continues to be necessary today. However, the Arsenal of Democracy transformed the industrial heartland and economic geography of the nation.
By the end of the war, over 6 million women had been drawn into the wartime industrial effort.
Not Rosie the Riveter. She wasn’t a single woman but millions of women across the country.
Chance Vought Aircraft promotional poster praising the women among their essential workforce.
Cutting and assembling parachutes at Cheney Manufacturing in Manchester, Connecticut.
Fuel oil and refined products delivered around the world and manufactured goods delivered (by rail) from manufacturing site across the country to ports on every coast.
Assembling the Twin Wasp engine at Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT.