Posts tagged 1940s.

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: December 13, 1948

Carnegie Tech announces a $4 million building and renovation program in a move to relieve overcrowding. [Historic PittsburghExplore PA History

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: December 11, 1944 

Thousands of Monday night Christmas shoppers were stranded Downtown by a 15-inch snowfall; all hotels were filled to capacity and lobbies were pressed into service as shelter; mills, schools, and many other activities were forced to suspend for two days. [Historic PittsburghThe Pittsburgh Press

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: December 8, 1941 


“Young men volunteer for Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor attack”

Pittsburgh was “coming to a slow boil” one day after Japanese fighter planes attacked Pearl Harbor, the Post-Gazette reported. Streets in the Golden Triangle were packed with Christmas shoppers still recovering from the shock of the news they’d received the previous day.

People gathered around radios in offices, hotel lobbies, theater foyers and bars as President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan. Hundreds line up on Diamond Street, where a public address system piped out Roosevelt’s historic statement, “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy … ” School children listening to the speech elsewhere in the city applauded, but this crowd listened grimly.

Eager, patriotic young men lined up at Army, Navy and Marine recruiting stations on Smithfield Street. A Post-Gazette reporter heard them ask, “How soon can we leave?”

A note on the back of this print states it was made at an Army Air Corps recruiting station. We at the Digs studied the image for some time and wondered about the eventual fate of these volunteers.

(Photo credit: Unknown)

— Steve Mellon

(via thepittsburghhistoryjournal)

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: November 26, 1946

Pittsburgh was assured funds for the Conemaugh Dam flood-control project when the Truman administration decided to spend an additional $55 million for such work. [Historic Pittsburgh


Children wearing Halloween costumes at Bedford Dwellings. c. 1941. 

[Source: Teenie Harris Archive]

Women exercising in gym, Pittsburgh, 1940s. Teenie Harris. 

Downtown Pittsburgh viewed from Mt. Washington, 1945. 

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: October 11, 1940 

President Roosevelt visits Pittsburgh.

Group portrait of the Homestead Grays baseball team at Forbes Field. Teenie Harris. (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: October 5, 1943 

The Homestead Grays win their first World Series with an 8-4 win. [Wikipedia

Conemaugh Dam (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: September 18, 1943

Two thousand Pittsburghers and state officials traveled to Saltsburg by special train and auto to participate in the dedication of the Conemaugh Dam.

Hi everyone, sorry for the absence this past week and clogging up your dashboard below. I was at the beach for vacation and have finally made up all the work I missed. Hello, fall!  

Freedom Train (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: September 15, 1948 

Tens of thousands of Pittsburghers visited the Freedom Train during its stopover at Pennsylvania Station. [Historic Pittsburgh


Nov. 15, 1948:   The Post-Gazette’s reporter Ray Sprigle disguised as a black man.

Ray Sprigle was a top-notch investigative journalist. “He posed as a black-market meat operator to expose graft and corruption in the war-rationing system; he got himself committed to a mental institution to prove inhumane conditions; he disguised himself as a black man traveling through the South to produce a groundbreaking 21-part series in 1948” (Post-Gazette, Sept. 16, 1986).

In 1937, Sprigle won the newspaper’s first Pulitzer Prize for a story proving that Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who was then newly appointed to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court by President Roosevelt, had been once a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Sprigle’s report was accompanied by transcripts, names, signed affidavits, Black’s application for membership in the Klan from Sept. 11, 1923, his membership dues and Black’s handwritten resignation from July 9, 1925.

This photograph captures Ray Sprigle posing as a black man for the 1948 series titled “‘I was a Negro in the South for 30 Days.” In this disguise and using the name James R. Crawford, Sprigle traveled through the South and experienced firsthand what life was like for 10 million people living under Jim Crow’s system of legal segregation.  To “pass” as an African American, as Springle writes in one of his dispatches, he “had shaved head, practically down to the skull, had my glasses reset in enormous black rims, and acquired a cap that drooped like a Tam o’Shanter.” Only twice in his month-long travels was his status as a black man “even remotely questioned.” 

(Photo credit: Unknown)

— Mila Sanina

(via thepittsburghhistoryjournal)

Island Queen explosion (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: September 9, 1947 

The Island Queen, said to be the largest river pleasure boat in the world, exploded as it was tied to the Monongahela River wharf. Nineteen people were killed. [Historic Pittsburgh


These single-panel cartoons are part of Jackie Ormes’ long-running Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger series, in which outspoken little sister Patty-Jo speaks truth to her always-silent (and always fashionable) older sister, Ginger. Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger ran in the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper that enjoyed a circulation far beyond Pittsburgh, reaching 358,000 households nationwide at its peak. Patty-Jo appeared weekly for 11 years straight, from 1945 to 1956. Ormes, recognized as the first female African-American cartoonist, drew Ginger as a beautiful, fashion-forward pin-up girl and Patty-Jo as a savvy child. This was imagery explicitly designed to counteract racist visions of black women and girls as uneducated, subservient mammies and pickaninnies. (A Patty-Jo doll, manufactured between 1947 and 1949, was one of the first “positive” African-American dolls produced in the U.S.) A spiritual ancestor of the radical Huey Freeman of the comic strip The Boondocks, Patty-Jo always got straight to the politics of the situation. Through Patty-Jo, Ormes addressed many of the major social problems of the postwar U.S.—the nuclear arms race, civil rights, poverty, McCarthyism—with surprising candor. The cartoonist was, herself, investigated by the FBI, as she belonged to many progressive movements. However, as historian Nancy Goldstein writes in her comprehensive book on Ormes, the FBI appears not to have looked at her cartoons: No reference to them appears in her file.

Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger: The ground-breaking African-American cartoon of the 1940s


Two couples, one with woman wearing floral dress and man lying on her lap with crossed legs, seated outdoors ca 1940-50, taken by Charles “Teenie” Harris.