[Photographic Identification Badge from an American Corporation]


Not on view

Electronic photo ID cards are only the latest examples of a mode of portraiture that dates back to the 1910s, when employers first began using photography to identify the American workforce. This badge is from a group which spans the first five decades of the genre. In them, typefaces and hairdos fall in and out of fashion, uniforms change, but the style of the photographs themselves shows surprisingly little evolution. A suite of workers stands at attention, identified at times by their names or employee numbers, but always by their particular physiology. They stare out from frames emblazoned with familiar and forgotten corporate iconography, tracing a typological history of American labor.

No image available

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.