The 1940s (pronounced “nineteen-forties” and commonly abbreviated as “the 40s”) was a decade that began on January 1, 1940, and ended on December 31, 1949.
Most of World War II took place in the first half of the decade, which had a profound effect on most countries and people in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. The consequences of the war lingered well into the second half of the decade, with a war-weary Europe divided between the jostling spheres of influence of the Western world and the Soviet Union, leading to the beginning of the Cold War. To some degree internal and external tensions in the post-war era were managed by new institutions, including the United Nations, the welfare state, and the Bretton Woods system, facilitating the post–World War II economic expansion, which lasted well into the 1970s. The conditions of the post-war world encouraged decolonization and the emergence of new states and governments, with India, Pakistan, Israel, Vietnam, and others declaring independence, although rarely without bloodshed. The decade also witnessed the early beginnings of new technologies (such as computers, nuclear power, and jet propulsion), often first developed in tandem with the war effort, and later adapted and improved upon in the post-war era. (Wikipedia)
A wealthy group of young people relax by a pool in California, 1940.
Traffic lights are made in Shreveport, Louisiana, and sent around the U.S. and abroad, December 1947.
Londoners seek shelter during WWII in the Aldwych tube station, April 1941.
Westinghouse demonstrates an electric razor using x-ray technology, May 1941.
Bolivian women check out the latest merchandise at a department store, August 1943.
Geography lesson, Sweden, 1948.
A Marine reading his mail in a foxhole on Iwo Jima, March 1945.
Penn Station, New York, 1941.
Two young women on the way to the theater, New York City, 1946.
Lipstick inspectors at work in the 1940s.
Sponge diver John M. Gonatos puts on his diving suit in Tarpon Springs, Florida in the 1940s.
Couple napping on a subway train in New York City, 1946.
British sappers (also called pioneers or combat engineers) training to defuse landmines in 1943.
On top of the Empire State Building, New York, circa 1942.
American troops on their way back to New York harbor after V-Day, 1945.
Behind-the-scenes photo from a 1946 Ringling Brothers Circus
Macy’s department store detectives pose for photo with their backs turned to protect their identity. (1948)
Street at night during a fog, New Bedford, Massachusetts, January 1941.
Finnish soldier with his reindeer near the tiny village of Nautsi, Northern Lapland in Finland (1941)
High school sweethearts James Dougherty and Norma Jean Baker were married when she was 16 in 1942. They divorced in 1946 and she went on to become one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s
Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara in a publicity photo for the swashbuckling film, “The Black Swan”, 1942
Marlon Brando reads a script at his grandmother’s house in California, 1949.
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, 1940s
Lucille Ball was a pin-up girl in Yank Magazine for the troops of WWII, 1945.
‘Golden Girl’ Betty White was a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services during WWII. 1941
Dot Robinson and her daughter Betty pose with their Harleys in 1947. Dot was the first president of the Motor Maids and held this position for 25 years.
Members of the Maori Battalion who had fought in Greece, perform a haka for the King of Greece at Helwan, Egypt. 1941
These bathing beauties make an optical illusion at the beach in the 1940s.
Queen Elizabeth served in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II
Morning shave with an axe, 1940s
Teens talking on the corner in NYC, 1948.
Ben Bowden shows off his prototype bicycle called the ‘Bowden Spacelander’ in 1946.
The famous photo by Nathaniel Fein, “The Babe Bows Out” (1948) won Fein the Pulitzer Prize for Photography.
A very young Robert De Niro Jr. with his dad Robert De Niro Sr., 1946
Women working on a Douglas C-47 cargo transport in Long Beach, 1942.
A couple stands by their futuristic Wonder Bolt car in 1947.
Bathing an African lion at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1940.
Noon meal, Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles, 1948.
Ella Fitzgerald performing at the Downbeat Club in NYC, with Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman in the audience back in 1948.
Stockholm, Sweden – Miss Sweden knocks out Miss Italy during an international women’s boxing match in 1949
At 19-years-old, Roza Shanina, a Soviet sniper, killed 54 men during WWII
A possum behind the camera in Australia, 1943.
Playing a game of pool at the general store in Franklin, Georgia. (1941)
Waiting at the bus stop in Lowell, Massachusetts. (1941)
Bike messengers leaving the White House on Dec. 7, 1941, day of the Pearl Harbor attack.
American troops treat a wounded dog on Orote Pennisula, Guam. (1944)
A goodbye kiss at Penn Station, NY, before shipping off to war (1942)
A British soldier reads a sign erected by British forces at the entrance of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Germany. (1945)
Grand Central Terminal in New York City, 1941.