Though we’re separated from it by only a handful of generations, the turn of the 20th century can feel like ancient history. This is exacerbated by choppy, black-and-white footage from the era that makes the people who lived through it feel like characters in an old movie. To make the early 1900s come alive, a film editor used AI to enhance and colorize a clip of Edwardian-era women working.
In the video below, a stream of women sporting floor-length skirts and perfectly-coiffed hair clock into their jobs at the the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh. The original 1904 film from the Library of Congress archives is black and white, and the quality has degraded over the years. YouTuber glamourdaze used deep learning and neural networks to colorize the footage, upscale it to 4K resolution, and reconstruct the women’s facial expressions. An ambient soundtrack was also added to heighten the realism of the scene.
These workers will look familiar to anyone familiar with the Gibson Girl. Popularized by the illustrations of artist Charles Dana Gibson, the look was characterized by the trumpet skirts, cinched waists, and lofty pompadours sported by these women. While Charles Gibson’s drawings often showed these style icons in leisurely settings, this footage shows that the look was just as popular on the factory floor.
Motion pictures were still in their infancy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but pioneering filmmakers of the period managed to capture everything from a solar eclipse to boxing cats (you have Thomas Edison to thank for the latter example). You can find more historic videos enchanted with AI on glamourdaze’s YouTube channel.