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Human Factor: Introducing the Industrial Life Photograph Collection at the Baker Library

In the 1930s Harvard Business School colleagues Donald Davenport and Frank Ayres contacted leading businesses and requested photographs for classroom instruction—images Davenport hoped would “reveal the courage, industry and intelligence required of the American working man.” They amassed more than 2,100 photographs. But the pictures were more than documentary records. They were the work of artists such as Margaret Bourke-White, Lewis Hine, and others, who produced highly stylized images meant to instill confidence in corporate America. Created in the years between the world wars, the Industrial Life Photograph Collection reveals the colliding—and sometimes competing—messages of art and industry, education and public relations, humanity and modernization. Unfortunately, this online window into the collection is not searchable. However, browsing reveals images of salt mining and automobile production in Michigan.

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