A Chicago native, William Vandivert (1912-1990) covered a wide swath of the Midwest until LIFE sent him to England for what was supposed to be a six-month tour in 1938. World War II altered his plans. From the first night of the Blitz, Vandivert was out on London’s docks, and for the next two and a half years he recorded the horrific bombing and magnificent stoicism of the English. (He was proud that his picture of a Welsh girl in head bandages got her the specialized surgery she required.) He followed the fighting across the globe and covered China’s Northern Silk Route before returning to Europe and showing the world the first pictures of Hitler’s bunker.
These two photos from 1937 reflect two different strikes, and LIFE’S very different approaches to them. In the first, 60,000 people attend a “great gathering of labor in Cadillac Square,” part of what is considered by many the most important strike in American history. The picture above is from an installment of “LIFE Goes to a Party.” The story reads, “The newest type of camping excursion is attended not by children of the rich but by members of the working classes… The youngest, prettiest, most prevailingly feminine group … were the 110 girls in Detroit’s main Woolworth store who .. . spent six days in the store. Camp broke up when the girls were granted a 5 cent per hour increase .. . Sleeping on counters like this is part of the fun on the six-day Woolworth camp outing.”
—Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers