I’ve had this picture of two women delivering ice in 1918 for months on my computer and I recall seeing it for the first time on Tumblr. I eventually found it in clearer condition on http://imgur.com/gallery/2IHWs, which showcases a lot of stunning historical pictures that have all been transferred from their original black-and-white format to color. The size is 115 KB. I acquired it in jpg. format, however the original black-and-white photograph was taken by an anonymous photographer and was later colorized by Dana Keller in either 2014 or 2013. It was then published in “American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918.” The caption that accompanies the picture when it was taken in 1918 reads, “Girls deliver ice. Heavy work that formerly belonged to men only is being done by girls. The girls are delivering ice on a route and their work requires brawn as well as the patriotic ambition to help.” In this context, the picture was most likely taken to boost the morale of World War I propaganda throughout the United States, considering that it was at this point in the war that many American men had been enlisted and shipped overseas to fight. Not only does this image reflect the intentions of early American war propaganda, but it also presented feminist ideals that were very similar to the ones being evoked during World War II. Since men weren’t around to do any so-called “heavy-lifting” the only other source of employment that industries could turn to was women. These women are presenting a type of feminine strength very similar to the strength Rosie the Riveter proudly displayed during World War II when women were left to care for the home-front while men were overseas. However, along with taking care of industries back home, women were also allowed to enlist in the United States Navy or Marine Corps as either nurses or actual combatants. 400 women died while serving. While their shifting strengths on the battlefield and at home did catch many people’s attention, it didn’t do much to change the outlook on women’s roles in the United States, however, since some women took an active part in the war, the United States, Canada, and some European countries expanded women’s suffrage in the years after the First World War. I wanted to post this picture not only because of its portrayal of sheer feminine strength and determination, but also because its very rare that we get to see these types of images during these times of great trouble. It isn’t everyday that you see a picture from almost 100 years ago of women delivering ice, and it’s even rarer if they’re smiling at you while they were doing it.
Vanessa Rodriguez, Section 1