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Mother and Daughter at Penn Station, NYC

Ruth Orkin

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

On View: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, South (rectangular gallery), 4th floor
For her New York–based photojournalist work, photographer Ruth Orkin captured a group of officers-in-training for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Created at the outset of World War II as an auxiliary branch of the U.S. Army, the WAC was converted to active duty status in 1943. Serving as switchboard operators, mechanics, bakers, tailors, clerks, stenographers, and drivers, the members, called WACs, became the first women other than nurses to serve in the army.

In an earlier series, Orkin photographed train passengers waiting outside of Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station. The image of a Black mother and child sitting on their luggage reflects the little-discussed history of segregated transportation in the northern United States. Through the 1940s, Penn Station officials assigned Black travelers seats in Jim Crow cars on southbound trains; in response, New Yorkers organized and the NAACP brought several successful lawsuits against complicit railroad companies.
MEDIUM Gelatin silver photograph
DATES 1948
DIMENSIONS sheet: 13 15/16 × 11 in. (35.4 × 27.9 cm) image: 13 3/4 × 9 3/16 in. (34.9 × 23.3 cm)  (show scale)
ACCESSION NUMBER 2011.22.3
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mary Engel
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Estate of Ruth Orkin
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CAPTION Ruth Orkin (American, 1921-1985). Mother and Daughter at Penn Station, NYC, 1948. Gelatin silver photograph, sheet: 13 15/16 × 11 in. (35.4 × 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mary Engel, 2011.22.3. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , 2011.22.3_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2011.22.3_PS9.jpg., 2018
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
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Ruth Orkin (American, 1921-1985). <em>Mother and Daughter at Penn Station, NYC</em>, 1948. Gelatin silver photograph, sheet: 13 15/16 × 11 in. (35.4 × 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mary Engel, 2011.22.3. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , 2011.22.3_PS9.jpg)