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Working Together: Carhartt and World War II

By Dave J. Moore, Brand Archivist and Historian

In October of 1941, Alfred T. Palmer, a photographer for the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), visited the Allegheny-Ludlum Steel Corporation plant outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His goal was to document increased levels of production to support America’s national defense initiative. One of the photographs he took was a portrait of welder George Woolslayer, wearing none other than Carhartt overalls.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

In November, an artist for the Office of War Information (OWI) selected the photo of George in his Carhartts to be featured on a new poster. His image was placed alongside portraits of Army Corporal French L. Vineyard and Navy Radioman First Class John Marshall Evans, with the moniker “Men Working Together.” The poster stressed the importance of production at home to support America’s men-at-arms overseas.

Woolslayer was unaware of the use of his image in the poster, and was extremely excited when he first saw it on the wall at the Allegheny plant. He sent a letter to the OEM expressing his pride and interest in finding out the names of the soldier and the sailor so that he could write to them. The OWI did him one better, and brought Evans and Vineyard to meet Woolslayer, tour his plant, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the production that supported their efforts. The visit was followed by a festive party at the Woolslayer home.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

But the story doesn’t end there. Subsequent visits for all three men were carried out at Marshall and French’s respective Navy and Army posts.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

The poster and various visits provided a meaningful picture of the cooperation between industry and the military that was required to win the war. In this way, the colleagues of the “Men Working Together” poster learned about one another, and gained new respect for the part each plays in the war against the Axis.

The importance of this poster was not lost on Carhartt. An advertisement was created that evoked the poster’s spirit, with the ad copy stating, “Men Working Together Need Work Clothes That Can Take It! The Carhartt family, with half a century of building the best work clothes money can buy, are keeping faith with the men on America’s workfronts - producing the same extra value, comfort fit, and extra-long wear in Carhartt overalls… just as America’s army of workers is keeping faith with its brothers-in-arms in their fight for freedom, justice, and democracy.”

Carhartt ad, November 1943
Carhartt ad, November 1943
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