Life in the 1940s

Updated on May 03, 2023. Originally added on Sep 27, 2018 by Kathy Pinna

From World War 2 through the declaration of peace and into the birth of the Baby Boomers, life in the 1940's wasn't easy.

But our parents and grandparents lived their lives with courage, honor, and great optimism about the future. The war and the Great Depression was over, the Dust Bowl was gone - almost 20 years of tough challenges - and life was good again.

These are some of the many 1940s photos that shows what the previous generations lived through, and what they did to thrive.

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The new generation at play

A toy car in the mid '40s
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Bill Boyce
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shared on 07/16/2018

And a different kind of "helmet" than today!

1945 Michigan
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When women went out in public, they were fashionable from head to toe. Certainly no sweats!!

A grown up Shirley Temple.
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Photo of Abbie Gourgon Abbie Gourgon
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shared on 04/24/2018

1945 - after the war and encased in mink.


World War II pin-up
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While this isn't a "pin-up" photo of her, her "glamour" photo was aptly named!

Buddies in the '40s
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These teens look so clean cut!

1943 Canada
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Barbara Rogelstad
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shared on 04/11/2017

During WW2, throughout the world, millions of men were married in their uniforms.

1945 Texas
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Photo of Greg Carroll Greg Carroll
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shared on 11/05/2014

He proposed to her during the last days of WW2. He was a Navy pilot in the war.


Our "elder brothers" - 1943
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"Baby Boomers" were the huge influx of babies who were born between 1946 and 1964. The war was done, peace was upon us, men were home, and their parents "made whoopie".

1942 hair salon
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Once a week, get all dressed up, go to the salon, and get your hair and nails done. You had to have money!

Original Toni Twins

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"Which twin has the Toni" - home permanents became the rage and Toni was the newest product. Previous to Toni's home perms, it was about $15 to get curls in a salon - it was $2 for a Toni Kit. But oh, the smell!!

August 1945
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Jen Len
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shared on 04/05/2017

Glamor wasn't just on the silver screen - our mothers and grandmothers were glamorous every day.

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And if you wanted to be really glamorous, you posed with a cigarette!

1943 San Diego CA
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A brief respite from the war - soldiers partying on leave. Every family album probably has a photo like this.


1944 Los Angeles
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Photo of Lorene Perez Lorene Perez
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shared on 04/24/2015

Taken on leave, this photo of brothers in the service represents most families with more than 1 son - it was common to have all of them in the service.

This family had five sons in service in WW2.
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Bob Rapps
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shared on 09/01/2014

And then there were the numerous women who served as well.
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Photo of Jp Baluch Jp Baluch
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shared on 07/06/2018

1942, South San Francisco
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And the "Rosie the Riveters" who supported the war effort.

First Ladies in the 40's

Jackie Kennedy
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She was in high school in this 40s photo.

Barbara Bush, 1943
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She was in finishing school.

The glamorous MM

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Marilyn Monroe, or Norma Jeane Baker, when she began modeling in the 1940s.

A real genius

Albert Einstein
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Photo of Leslie Ann Sweet Leslie Ann Sweet
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shared on 08/24/2016

In his 60s, he was still contributing to scientific knowledge - and would until 1955.

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