Alexander defeats the Persians, Destruction of PompeiiThe Crusades, The Black Death...Salem Witch TrialsWriting the Declaration of Independence, Battle of Lexington...Escape from slavery, Death of President Garfield..Battle of Gettysburg, Death of Lincoln...Custer's Last Stand, The Death of Billy the Kid...San Francisco Earthquake, Sinking of the Titanic...
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A Prisoner of the Boxer Rebellion, 1900

The Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Farm Wife, 1900

The Death of Queen Victoria, 1901

The Assassination of President William McKinley, 1901

The Roosevelts Move Into the White House, 1901

Riding a Rural Free Delivery Route, 1903

First Flight, 1903

The Gibson Girl

Early Adventures With The Automobile

Immigrating to America, 1905

San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

Henry Ford Changes the World, 1908

A Walk with President Roosevelt, 1908

Children At Work, 1908-1912

On Safari, 1909

Birth of the Hollywood Cowboy, 1911

Doomed Expedition to the South Pole, 1912

Sinking of the Titanic, 1912

1st Woman to Fly the English Channel, 1912

The Massacre of the Armenians, 1915

The Bolsheviks Storm the Winter Palace, 1917

The Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918

President Wilson Suffers a Stroke, 1919

Making Movies, 1920

King Tut's Tomb, 1922

Coolidge Becomes President, 1923

Adolf Hitler Attempts a Coup, 1923

Air Conditioning Goes to the Movies, 1925

Prohibition, 1927

Lindbergh Flies the Atlantic, 1927

Babe Ruth Hits His 60th Home Run, 1927

The Wall Street Crash, 1929

The Bonus Army Invades Washington, D.C., 1932

The Reichstag Fire, 1933

Shoot-out with Bonnie and Clyde, 1933

Migrant Mother, 1936

The Bombing of Guernica, 1937

The Rape of Nanking, 1937

Dining with the King and Queen of England, 1938

Images Of War 1918-1971

The Death of President Franklin Roosevelt, 1945

Thoughts Of A President, 1945

Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball's Color Barrier, 1945

The Assassination of Gandhi, 1948

The Russians Discover a Spy Tunnel in Berlin, 1956

The Hungarian Revolution, 1956

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1963

First Voyage to the Moon, 1968

President Nixon Meets Elvis, 1970

Payoff to the Vice President, 1971

President Nixon Leaves the White House 1974

Images Of War
Combat Photography 1918-1971

Returning From Battle
Eniwetok Atoll - February 1944

Photographer's notes: "Back to a Coast Guard assault transport comes this Marine after two days and nights of Hell on the beach of Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. His face is grimy with coral dust but the light of battle stays in his eyes."

(Ironically, after the war, the residents of Eniwetok were removed from their homes and the atoll became an atomic testing ground from 1948 to 1962. It was the site of the first hydrogen bomb test in 1952. Residents began returning to the atoll in the 1970s.)

Select from the photographs below for more images.

The photographic documentation of war began soon after the camera's invention.

In 1855, Englishman Roger Fenton packed a wagon with photographic equipment and set out to cover the Crimean War. Although precedent-setting, his carefully posed images of British camp life failed to capture the drama and horror of war - no dead bodies, no mass destruction. This was in part due to the handicaps of his equipment and to the goal of his royal patrons to portray the war in the best light possible.

A few years later, the photographers of the American Civil War hauled their bulky equipment onto the battlefield to capture war's grisly aftermath. Their images - fields filled with the bloating bodies of the dead - caused a public sensation. Their groundbreaking efforts however, can be more appropriately described as battlefield rather than combat photography. The technical limitations of their equipment prevented them from catching the action of war.

Armed with faster film, smaller cameras and no longer needing to haul a darkroom behind him, the World War I photographer could get closer to combat. The introduction of 35mm film increased the intimacy of the camera's eye, enabling the World War II photographer to become part of the action. Television changed perspectives again - the war in Vietnam literally entered the living rooms of millions of Americans each night. Today, with the introduction of satellite connections, our images of war are not only in our living room but they are instantaneous and live.

Although the camera has changed our impression of war, the reality of war remains the same. As the Marine to the left wearily clamors over the ship's guardrail, his expression reveals the horrors that have been war's companion since the beginning of time.

How To Cite This Article:
"Combat Photography, 1918-1971," EyeWitness to History, (2000).

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Snipers, 1971 Machine Gun Crew, 1918