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.
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.
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
2. Japanese boy scouts outside the Portland Journal Building, 1940
3. Young men reading magazines inside a Hollywood neighborhood store, Portland, November 1940
4. Hollywood Theater, Portland, November 1940
5. Crossing at SE Bybee and Milwaukie Ave, Portland, 1940
6. A young boy in a leather pilot’s helmet selling newspapers, Portland, 1941
7. Rose Festival Court, Portland, 1941
8. A Navy sailor on the S.S. President Jackson, 1941
9. Kids playing in a Portland city park, July 1, 1941
10. Demolishing buildings on Front Avenue, Portland, 1941
11. Springer Spaniel field competition, Deer Island, September 1941
12. The chapel at Providence Hospital, Portland, 1941
13. Harvesting flax, Clackamas County, 1941
14. Chinese American women, Portland, 1942
15. A female welder for the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, January 1942
16. Female workers for the Columbia Aircraft Corporation, 1942
17. Illustrating the rationing of sugar with Paul Shaw, administrator of the Multnomah County Rationing Board, April 1942
18. Female truck drivers, Portland, 1942
19. Japanese Americans in a temporary detention center, Pacific International Livestock Exposition Building, Portland 1942
20. Portland policemen receiving gas masks, 1942
21. War hero parade float, Portland, June 1942
22. Milk delivery at Commercial Iron Works, Portland, 1942
23. Students with their teacher at war worker housing, Portland area, 1942
24. Navy recruits leaving en masse at George A. White Center and Victory Center, SW 6th and Morisson, Portland, 1942
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
26. Scrap metal drive at Lincoln High School, Portland, 1942
27. War industry workers at a meeting, Portland, 1942
28. Worker with leather mitts at St. Johns Welders’ Supply Company, Portland, 1943
29. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visiting George M. White Service Men’s Center, Portland, 1943
30. Victory Center dedication at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, June 1943
31. Women workers in an electric shop at Commercial Iron Works, Portland, 1943
32. A crowd at a Portland shoe store on the last day to use shoe stamps during rationing, June 1943
33. A performer putting on makeup at Earl Carroll’s Vanities Road Show, Portland Mayfair Theater, 1943
34. Navy blimp over Oregon Journal building, Portland, 1943
35. Meadowlark Trailer Camp for shipyard workers, St. Johns, 1943
36. Junior Rose Festival parade, Portland, 1943
37. Street at Meadow Lark Village Camp for war workers, St. Johns, 1944
38. Arrival of a ship with returning servicemen and U.S. employees at Portland port, April 13, 1945
39. A Navy sailor returns home, Portland, April 1945
40. Iris Mandy of Sears Roebuck, and Clara Markstaller of Fred Meyer, holding large paper war bonds, Portland, 1945
41. President Truman visiting Portland, June 1945
42. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945
43. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945
44. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945
45. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945
46. Celebrating the end of World War II, downtown Portland, August 14, 1945
47. A woman looking at the Oregon Journal cover, 1945
48. Mrs. W. H. Caplan throws newspapers to navy men on U.S.S. Barrow, Portland, October 1945
49. U.S.S. Mormacsea with returning troops, Portland, November 1945
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