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Worker building a model aircraft carrier
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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 453, Life - Naval Battle Photography, 1940-1945, 1956

Summary: When the United States declared war in 1941, Bel Geddes and his staff built elaborate miniatures of land and sea conflicts, which were convincingly photographed via the grandiosely titled and marketed “Norman Bel Geddes Process” (see job 28). Proclaimed by New York’s Museum of Modern Art as “a new form of picture journalism” that educated the public about the war, these images were featured in Life magazine, and the models themselves were displayed at the museum in 1944 (see job 499).

Geddes's first assignment, the Battle of the Coral Sea, appeared in the May 25, 1942 issue, less than three weeks after the battle took place.

Some of the effects achieved were ship wakes made of soda, distant rain simulated by a screen of slanting wire threads, long smoke trails of cotton-batting on a framework of wire, and clouds simulated by studio lighting.

Models were used in jobs for the United States Navy (see jobs 420, 446, 458, 470, 475, 485, 488, and 536).


(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
box 30 453.1 Agreement, correspondence Mar-Dec 1942.
box 30 453.2 Memos, job schedules 1942-1943. Negative Record 1943. Article reprint.
box 30 453.3 List of 39 Life assignments [May1944]. List of Data Files. "Job Organization for Life Assignments" 1944.
box 30 453.4 Assignments Mar-Jun1944. Work schedules n.d.
flat file 453.1 Work schedule n.d.
oversize box 9 453.1 Life clippings, May 1942 (Coral Sea) - Aug. 1943 (Russia).
oversize box 9 453.2 Clippings 1943-1945.
box 30 453.5 Negative envelope for Assignment 42.
box 30 453.6 Model Photography Maps --- Memo, sketch of airport.
box 30 453.7 Charles E. Tuttle Co. --- Correspondence 1956. Midway Battle article in Japanese magazine Bengei-Shunju (Jun1956).
photo box 14 453.1 16 Photographs of model building and models.
object 453.1 Model of field hospital used in Life illustration titled "On the North Sea Coast," ca. 1942-1943.
photo box 14 453.2 Navy Ship Models --- 1 Photograph.
box 30 453.8 Navy Ship Models --- Photographic record sheets, 1940 (?).
damaged box 12 453.1 Navy Ship Models --- Pamphlet "Battle of the Rio Plate".
damaged box 12 453.2 Life Sailing Photos (Assignment 51) --- List, Negative Record 1945. 21 photographs of model sailboat (fire damaged).
photo box 14 453.3-17 66 Photographs --- Assignments: 1. Coral Sea 3. Task Force Operation 4. Libya 5. Caucasus 12. Landing Operations 15. Solomons 17. Gibralter 18. Weather Study 29. Lowlands 33. Marianas 37. Japan 42. Parachute Attack 48. Burma ? New Guinea 43? French Coast.
negative box 11 453.1a 48 Negatives --- Plans for naval battles.
negative box 46 453.1b 48 Negatives --- Plans for naval battles. (continued) [nitrate]
negative box 12 453.2 12 Negatives --- Charles E. Tuttle Co.
negative box 46 453.3 4 Negatives --- Task Force Operation. [nitrate]
negative box 46 453.4 4 Negatives --- South Pacific Islands. [nitrate]
negative box 12 453.5-7 62 Negatives --- Weather Study. [46 damaged]
negative box 13 453.8-9 62 Negatives --- Weather Study (continued).
negative box 40 453.10a Negatives.
negative box 55 453.10b Negatives. (continued)
negative box 56 453.10c Negatives. (continued)
negative box 40 453.11a Negatives (continued).
negative box 57 453.11b Negatives (continued).
negative box 58 453.11c Negatives (continued).
negative box 40 453.12a Negatives (continued).
negative box 59 453.12b Negatives (continued).
negative box 40 453.13a Negatives (continued).
negative box 60 453.13b Negatives (continued).
box 30 453.9 Holtzer-Cabot booklet, 1944.

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