Raymond Frederick Diekmann Chrysler Wartime Collection

University Archives/Special Collections (UASC) at the David L. Rice Library is pleased to announce the acquisition and publication of the Raymond Diekmann photographic collection, MSS 253.  Diekmann (1913-1993) is probably best known as the owner of RaJo’s Gun Shop, but earlier in his career he was in charge of security at the Chrysler Plant/Evansville Ordnance Plant at 1625 North Garvin Street.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, “the Army Ordinance Department asked Chrysler if the Evansville plant could produce vast amounts of .45 automatic ammunition to supply the war effort. Chrysler President Kaufman Keller replied that they could.  Keller’s confidence in the Evansville plant’s abilities paid off. Between 1942 and 1944, the Evansville Ordinance Plant produced more than 3.26 billion cartridges – about 96% of all the .45 automatic ammunition produced for all the armed forces. In addition to the ammunition, the Evansville Ordinance Plant rebuilt 1,600 Sherman tanks and 4,000 military trucks. Plymouth car production resumed after World War II.” The plant closed in 1959.

Although he was not the photographer, Diekmann, in his role with security, would have been in many, if not all parts, of the plant and seen what is pictured in the more than 900 images of this collection, which all deal with the World War II work at the plant.

August 3, 1944 saw the arrival of the largest number of tanks needing repair, 32 train flatcars. MSS 253-0478
After repair and/or retrofitting, tanks were tested on this track. MSS 253-787
After repair and/or retrofitting, tanks were tested on this track. MSS 253-787
The “powder farm” for the ordnance plant was the current location of the Vanderburgh County 4-H Center. MSS 2583-586
Women working on wire harness assembly. MSS 253-805
African American man and women packing 30-caliber ammunition into boxes. MSS 253-433
African American man and women working at a 30--caliber carton machine. MSS 253-254
African American man and women working at a 30–caliber carton machine. MSS 253-254

If this brief peek at the collection intrigues you, click here to browse the Raymond Frederick Diekmann Chrysler Wartime Collection, which is also keyword searchable.  These photographs will be of use for sociology, history, engineering, and gender and race studies purposes.  And besides, it’s just plain fascinating!  It’s a portion of the more than 40,000 digitized images and documents held by UASC, covering the history of the University of Southern Indiana (USI), formerly Indiana State University Evansville (ISUE), as well as the history of Evansville, Indiana and the Midwest Region, along with various communal groups in the United States and around the world. Of particular interest is the African Cultural Diversity Showcase, a collection of 233 artifacts from Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, South Africa, and Ghana.  To explore any or all of these other collections, visit the Online Digital Galleries at the University Archives and Special Collections. In the future there will be other blogs that delve a bit deeper into the tank, truck, and ammunition work at the Evansville Ordnance plant…in the meanwhile, enjoy!

This entry was posted in American history, Evansville, Indiana, history, Local history. Bookmark the permalink.

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