I’m wrapping up my coffee before heading to work to teach my last bibliographic instruction class of the semester. A friend and I were looking at these Lewis Hine images that The Atlantic posted this week and I thought I would share on this weekend morning. Apparently the American Red Cross commissioned Hine to take these images as a means of drumming up support back home for the Red Cross’s important work attending the sick, the wounded, and the hungry. We actually used the one above in the film we made last fall. It is hard to believe that we are now almost four years into the Great War centennial. I suppose it is difficult to comprehend from an American perspective because we did not join the war until April 1917 and really did not become fully involved until Spring 1918. The Battle of Cantigny, where the First Infantry Division fought so tenaciously, was in May 1918. Hine took the photo above almost a full year later.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sailed for Europe on January 1, 1919, around the time Hine was taking the images that The Atlantic published this week as part of a series over the course of the centennial. It was not the first time Eleanor or Franklin had been on the Continent. Now in their 30s, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and his wife were already well-traveled and had seen much of the world. Still, they were shocked at what they saw in those months after the Armistice. Eleanor wrote at the time that “I never saw anything like Paris. The scandals going on would make many a woman at home unhappy. It is not place for the boys [the impressionable doughboys], especially the younger ones . . . All the women in the restaurant look to me exaggerated, some pretty, all chic, but you wonder if any are ladies.”
Though given the subject matter I don’t know if one can “enjoy” the photographs, they are indeed poignant and striking. Here they are one more time.
(Image/Lewis Wickes Hine, Library of Congress)