Last Look

Stephanie the Riveter

A new online database makes thousands of Depression-era photos searchable by place.

Photographs by Howard R. Hollem

Photographs by Howard R. Hollem

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These photographs of Stephanie Cewe working in a New Haven toy factory—on toy trains (right) and, during World War II, on a flare casing—are two of 170,000 Depression-era photos recently made more accessible by the Yale Photogrammar project. The New Deal paid photographers (Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans among them) to document everyday life of the time; the result, says American studies professor Laura Wexler, is “one of the most famous and beloved sets of photographs ever made.” The Library of Congress collection was free and online but hard to navigate, and three years ago, graduate student Lauren Tilton ’16PhD suggested creating a database searchable both geographically and by photographer. Wexler, Tilton, and statistician Taylor Arnold ’14PhD put together a team, and they officially launched the site——early this fall. As of late September, the site had received 1.5 million visits.

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