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Calvin James and Selma Lee Beck Collection (SC-386)

Identifier: SC-386

Scope and Contents

All the photos of this collection were taken sometime between 1941 and 1944 at the Dayton-area Frigidaire Plant 3.

The first folder contains 35 small black and white photos documenting the day-to-day manufacturing of .50 caliber Browning machines guns within Plant 3.

The second folder contains 16 large black and white photos documenting a company event celebrating the 250,000th gun manufactured by Frigidaire. There is a picture of Selma eating cake in this folder.


  • Creation: Circa 1941-1944


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Selma Lee Beck (1900-1963) worked at Frigidaire in Plant 3, and her husband, Calvin James Beck (1895-1980), was an ice cream service man at the Gem City Ice Cream Company. Selma can be seen enjoying cake at a company celebration in one of the photos in this collection.

In 1916, the Guardian Refrigerator Company was organized in Detroit to manufacture and sell one of the first self-contained electric refrigerating units. The company was purchased in 1918 by W.C. Durant, then president of General Motors, and the name was changed to Frigidaire. In 1921, the business was moved to Dayton, Ohio and the mass production techniques of the automobile industry were applied to the building of refrigerators.

During World War II, all civilian production was halted as Frigidaire manufactured .50 caliber Browning machines guns, aircraft propellers and parts, hydraulic controls for airplanes, and other military items. Frigidaire Plant 3 concentrated on the production of .50 caliber Browning machine guns designed for U.S. military aircraft; their guns were most commonly used on the B-17 Flying Fortress. The plant was constructed specifically for the manufacturing of these guns after Frigidaire’s first military contract was received in 1940.


0.08 linear feet (1 expansion folder containing 2 smaller folders)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged in two folder groupings by topic.

Other Finding Aids

This finding aid is available online at

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Calvin James and Selma Lee Beck Collection was donated to Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives, by Diana Chuvalas, the great grand-daughter of Calvin James and Selma Lee Beck, Feb. 26, 2018.

Guide to the Calvin James and Selma Lee Beck Collection (SC-386)
Tyler Elam
2022 October 04
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA