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MNY40404

Lunch Room: R & L Lunch photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

I often find myself imagining how my life would have unfolded had I been born just a few decades earlier. Perhaps I would have been reading diner signs confirming that ladies were indeed invited.

MNY13783

1st Avenue & 10th Street Market photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. 

Women’s lives have been radically reshaped over the last one hundred years. Ironically, it was women’s place in the home that often necessitated her entry into public space. Industrialization and urbanization created demand for more and more household goods to be produced outside of the home. Women came to be seen as consumers, while men were more favourably looked upon as producers. Although consumption was accorded less status than production, as feminists have long observed, (male) workers cannot serve the demands of capitalism without the (invisible) labour performed in homes (by women).

MNY6864

Women Shopping photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

Much of this work centred upon food provisioning and preparation. These photographs taken by Sol Libsohn in New York City in the late 1930s illustrate the daily tenor of women’s lives as urban consumers. For more on Libsohn’s life and work read an interview he gave here and see this short piece published in The New York Times following his death.

MNY36867

At the Opening of the First Avenue & 10th Street Market photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

MNY24458

Refreshment Stand: Irving’s Famous Malted Milk photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

MNY12909

Lunch Room photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

MNY19017

Lunch Rooms photographed by Sol Libsohn in New York City 1938. CREDIT: From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

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