University Library News
Georgia State University

Photo of the Week: X-Ray Fun for Kids

Atlanta shoe store, 1944. Lane Brothers Photograph Collection LBGPF8-005d

Photographs that appear mundane may occasionally harbor facets of forgotten history.  This store interior includes a large wooden box on the left called a shoe-fitting fluorosope.  These machines were popular in up-scale shoe stores from the 1920s to the 1960s.  This 1938 Adrian Shoe Fitter, Inc., model had three viewing portals allowing a parent, sales person, and child a live X-ray view of a child’s foot to easily see how much growth room a shoe had.  The machine was awarded the Parent’s Magazine Seal of Commendation for safety and quality.

One marketing ploy was that the device made it more fun for children to visit a shoe store.  Radiation exposure ranged from 12 to 107 rems per minute (exposure above 100 rems causes illness) and the machines were often out of adjustment.  The radiation hazards were recognized in the 1950s, and by 1970 they were banned by most states.  By comparison, today’s TSA full-body scanners emit .0001 rems per scan.

This shoe store photograph is one of over  9,000 Atlanta area online images from the Lane Brothers Photograph Collection at Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections and Archives.