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Inro to the World War I Press Photographs Collection
This section of the blog is dedicated to photographs made during World War I--the official photographs, because the control of military images during the 1914-1919 period was very nearly complete.
Photographs were made by pools of photographers working for several different photographic news agencies. The content of the images were generally secured and approved by the Committee for Public Information (CPI), which came into existence by executive order under President Woodrow Wilson on April 13, 1917, and which was charged with the task of wining the hearts and minds of the people of the U.S., to gain public support for the war and for American participation.
It is somewhat both ironic and not terribly uncommon for Wilson to have run for the presidency for one thing and then doing exactly the opposite, as he did with his 1916 re-election campaign slogan "He Kept Us out of War".
The way that many newspapers obtained the war images that they published in their papers was via a semi-centralized pool of war images. The newspaper would request, say, a photo of German prisoners, and would contact one of these photographic agencies—for example, say, the Central News Photo Service of 26-28 Beaver Street, NYC—and purchase the rights for republication, and then print it in the newspaper along with the story. In almost every case the photo would be accompanied by a caption mimeographed onto an attached piece of cheap paper, or have the information stamped on the reverse.
Photography was just one aspect of the information distribution and control by CPI--there were also thousands of Newspaper articles, public speakers (the famous "Four Minute Men" who would give some 7 million pepper talks at the beginnings of movies and public events), radio broadcasts, films, posters, demonstrations and anti-demonstrations, and other public displays.
[Image Source: World War I Propaganda Posters]