Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945 / Image via / OHS Digital Collections

His name was Al Monner and he never became a world-famous photographer (unlike his peers Ray Atkeson, Minor White, and Dorothea Lange). As far as Oregon is concerned though, I would argue that Monner gave us a priceless look into life during WWII.

Al Monner, Self Portrait / Image via / OHS Digital Collections

Born and raised in Portland and small Eastern Oregon communities, Monner was hired as a staff photographer for the Oregon Journal newspaper in 1938 where he continued on until retiring in 1975. During his tenure, Monner made thousands of film images for the paper, covering everything from the mundane “slice of life” editorial sets to news events in every corner of the state.

Despite being frequently staged for the Journal, his images of those five wartime years in the 1940s are especially poignant.

Rubber being given to a Shell Oil Company representative in exchange for admission to Vaughn Street Park, Portland, 1942 / Image via / OHS Digital Collections

From the early days of WWII to the ending celebrations in Portland, Monner’s lens captured it all. In scrolling through his collection we see how life for Oregonians began to phase into the wartime efforts of rationing (in everything from sugar to shoes). Women left their traditional roles in the home to venture into the workforce while their husbands were away on the front. Meanwhile, their children still found ways to have fun. In the meantime, Asian Americans were increasingly looked at with scrutiny and persecution in this tumultuous period of American history. Those images are particularly hard to view.

Beginning in 2020, the Oregon Historical Society was busy processing thousands of Monner’s negatives and digitizing them for online research. Today the incredible collection can be found on their website. We’ve selected the following 49 images to highlight here.

Table of Contents

Oregon Life During WWII

1. Children swimming at Sellwood Park, July 1, 1940

al monner WWII Oregon photographs
Children swimming at Sellwood Park, July 1 1940 / Image via / OHS Digital Collections

2. Japanese boy scouts outside the Portland Journal Building, 1940

al monner oregon wwii photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

3. Young men reading magazines inside a Hollywood neighborhood store, Portland, November 1940

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

4. Hollywood Theater, Portland, November 1940

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

5. Crossing at SE Bybee and Milwaukie Ave, Portland, 1940

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

6. A young boy in a leather pilot’s helmet selling newspapers, Portland,  1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

7. Rose Festival Court, Portland, 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

8. A Navy sailor on the S.S. President Jackson, 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

9. Kids playing in a Portland city park, July 1, 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

10. Demolishing buildings on Front Avenue, Portland, 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

11. Springer Spaniel field competition, Deer Island, September 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

12. The chapel at Providence Hospital, Portland, 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

13. Harvesting flax, Clackamas County, 1941

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

14. Chinese American women, Portland, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

15. A female welder for the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland,  January 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

16. Female workers for the Columbia Aircraft Corporation, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

17. Illustrating the rationing of sugar with Paul Shaw, administrator of the Multnomah County Rationing Board, April 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

18. Female truck drivers, Portland, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

19. Japanese Americans in a temporary detention center, Pacific International Livestock Exposition Building, Portland 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

20. Portland policemen receiving gas masks, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

21. War hero parade float, Portland, June 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs

22. Milk delivery at Commercial Iron Works, Portland, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs

23. Students with their teacher at war worker housing, Portland area,  1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs

24. Navy recruits leaving en masse at George A. White Center and Victory Center, SW 6th and Morisson, Portland, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

25. Elva May Poole, the first black member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps from Portland, being sworn in by Lt. D.K. MacDougall, September 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

26. Scrap metal drive at Lincoln High School, Portland, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

27. War industry workers at a meeting, Portland, 1942

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

28. Worker with leather mitts at St. Johns Welders’ Supply Company, Portland, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

29. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visiting George M. White Service Men’s Center, Portland, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

30. Victory Center dedication at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, June 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

31. Women workers in an electric shop at Commercial Iron Works, Portland, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

32. A crowd at a Portland shoe store on the last day to use shoe stamps during rationing, June 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

33. A performer putting on makeup at Earl Carroll’s Vanities Road Show, Portland Mayfair Theater, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

34. Navy blimp over Oregon Journal building, Portland, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

35. Meadowlark Trailer Camp for shipyard workers, St. Johns, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

36. Junior Rose Festival parade, Portland, 1943

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

37. Street at Meadow Lark Village Camp for war workers, St. Johns, 1944

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

38. Arrival of a ship with returning servicemen and U.S. employees at Portland port, April 13, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

39. A Navy sailor returns home, Portland, April 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

40. Iris Mandy of Sears Roebuck, and Clara Markstaller of Fred Meyer, holding large paper war bonds, Portland, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

41. President Truman visiting Portland, June 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

42. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

 

43. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

 

 

44. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

45. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

46. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

47. A woman looking at the Oregon Journal cover, 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

48. Mrs. W. H. Caplan throws newspapers to navy men on U.S.S. Barrow, Portland, October 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

49. U.S.S. Mormacsea with returning troops, Portland, November 1945

al monner oregon WWII photographs
Image via / OHS Digital Collections

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Danielle Denham is an award-winning and published photographer who loves her home state of Oregon. Recently she was featured on a regional-Emmy-winning episode of Oregon Field Guide, and is currently writing a book on Abandoned Oregon. When she isn’t out and about exploring for derelict places to photograph, you may find her hanging around in Eugene Oregon with Tyler Willford and his two awesome kiddos.



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