Title

Visual Memories of WWI: The Importance of Photographic Collections

Lead Author Major

History & French

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Bill Swagerty

Faculty Mentor Department

History

Abstract/Artist Statement

World War I was one of the first wars to be extensively photographed. What was done with these photographs after they were taken, whether they were published in the press or used later in illustrated histories of the war, greatly impacted how the civilian population perceived the war. For this paper, I examined six collections of photographs depicting the First World War in order to explore how each of the compilers of the collections used captions, formatting, and photograph selection to convey a certain message about the war to the collection's intended audience. The collections examined include two "photographic histories" of the war published during the war, a photographic history published between the two world wars, an illustrated history book published in the 1960s, a personal scrapbook compiled by a soldier, and another soldier's collection of personal photographs. I found that the earliest collections sought to entertain and captivate the reader's attention through dramatic images, presenting the war as a tragic mistake or as an inevitable consequence of the actions of the Germans. The most recent book sought more to educate and presented a more neutral message. The personal collections, more limited in the scale of things and people depicted, demonstrated what the soldiers thought most important to remember. For my presentation, I will provide context for photographic technology and the role of war photographers at this time, give examples of the types of information found in my sources, and I will present the conclusions I have drawn upon examining the sources.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

25-4-2015 10:00 AM

End Date

25-4-2015 12:00 PM

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Apr 25th, 10:00 AM Apr 25th, 12:00 PM

Visual Memories of WWI: The Importance of Photographic Collections

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

World War I was one of the first wars to be extensively photographed. What was done with these photographs after they were taken, whether they were published in the press or used later in illustrated histories of the war, greatly impacted how the civilian population perceived the war. For this paper, I examined six collections of photographs depicting the First World War in order to explore how each of the compilers of the collections used captions, formatting, and photograph selection to convey a certain message about the war to the collection's intended audience. The collections examined include two "photographic histories" of the war published during the war, a photographic history published between the two world wars, an illustrated history book published in the 1960s, a personal scrapbook compiled by a soldier, and another soldier's collection of personal photographs. I found that the earliest collections sought to entertain and captivate the reader's attention through dramatic images, presenting the war as a tragic mistake or as an inevitable consequence of the actions of the Germans. The most recent book sought more to educate and presented a more neutral message. The personal collections, more limited in the scale of things and people depicted, demonstrated what the soldiers thought most important to remember. For my presentation, I will provide context for photographic technology and the role of war photographers at this time, give examples of the types of information found in my sources, and I will present the conclusions I have drawn upon examining the sources.