Out of the seven potential Instagram pages presented as options for this assignment, this particular profile appealed to me. It commits to posting a photograph or video of a World War One event that corresponds to the date of the post. Hence, the profile name is “This day in World War One.” For example, a post uploaded on February 1, 2022 will display an image/event/video of an event that took place on February 1st, 1914-1918. The account has 44.3k subscribers and is a public page, meaning that there is no request process in order to view the creator’s content. The demographic trend is toward a diverse population, with followers of the page ranging from private individuals of all ages and backgrounds to other fellow “history accounts.” As a follower of this page, I felt a connection to the content as it transcends time to educate and pique the interest of followers and avid historians.
The media posted on this page is not biased against or for one particular “side” of the war. The content ranges from French “gas schools” to images of British soldiers at the front as well as propaganda posters from multiple countries. The quality of the photographs and videos, despite them being digitized and over 100 years old, is clear and the images are recognizable.
This impartial approach to exhibiting the every-day lives of both soldiers, civilians, as well as government officials is effective in presenting history accurately and informatively while also doing so in an “story-telling manner.” The admin of the page is consistent in giving credit to the creators, photographers, artists, and publishers of the content and has demonstrated themselves to be a reliable source of information. A majority of the content comes from collections of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in Manchester, UK.
Over the course of following this account, I found that much of the content provides visuals that assist in my personal understanding of some of the concepts, events, and technologies taught about in class. For example, the images attached above relate to events that occur within the texts we discuss during class.
In Smithy’s faux-dialogue with Mother and Mrs. Evans-Mawnington (Not So Quiet), she mentions her mother’s excitement at the use of “liquid fire.” Smithy goes into detail, describing the condition of a boy who was unlucky enough to have been on the receiving end of it (Smith 95). The first photograph of the soldier wearing the protective equipment is haunting, as we can almost imagine ourselves facing a cloaked enemy spewing fire in our direction.
The Redeemer, a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, paints a picture of the miserable conditions of the trenches at the front. The second and third picture above, reminded me of the threat mud posed at the front. It was source of sickness and infection, a hindrance to mobilizing soldiers, and often the cause of their death. The picture of a British soldier being removed from the mud by his comrades, credited to Christopher Clark, again provides us with a harsh and realistic visual of hardship at the front.
Captioning Information & SUBSCRIBER INTERACTIONS
The captions beneath the post range from short to long in length, however, still present enough information for the viewer to accurately interpret what they are seeing in the photograph. The captions are arranged in the same format across all posts: date in history, location and description of media, followed by a reference to the source of information/content.
The comment sections underneath the posts are not overwhelming, most comments left by followers are of an appreciative nature rather than questions posed to the admin.
Overall, I found this Instagram page to be interesting and informative. The content posted was always WWI related and I enjoyed the experience of being able to view events on the day that they happened over 100 years ago.
Again, out of the seven potential Instagram pages presented as options for this assignment, this profile stuck out to me as I noticed a common theme across its posts. @ww1photos_info is unique in that, with the exception of one or two photographs, it strictly displays pictures identifying soldiers alongside a quote or experience from their life. The account has 154k subscribers and is a public page, meaning that there is no request process in order to view the creator’s content. The demographic trend is, again, a diverse population. Followers of the page range from private individuals of all ages and backgrounds to other fellow “history accounts.” The admin of this account did a wonderful job giving a voice to individuals who might have been otherwise forgotten. The narratives are richly written despite the Instagram caption word-limit and are effective in evoking a range of emotions.
(WARNING: SLIGHT NUDITY IN BELOW PHOTOGRAPH)
To reiterate, it is impressive that the quality of the photographs, despite them being digitized and over 100 years old, are clear and the images are recognizable. This particular account collaborates with a specialized historian to colorize the otherwise black and white photos. In my personal opinion, we often associate B&W photographs with being “old” and consider them to be “from a long time ago,” which distances us from the subjects in the photographs. The colorized aspect, I feel, paints life into the soldiers’ faces and is one of the factors working to invoke a feeling of closeness with these individuals through their pictures.
I really enjoyed the content on this page (no, not because of the male buttocks) as it does an excellent job in selecting candid photographs that capture the ranges of emotions soldiers feel whilst at the front. This particular photograph, conveys feelings of camaraderie, closeness and desensitization, all of which soldiers develop at the front. It is reminiscent of the “business” scene in All Quiet on the Western Front and drives home the shift in thinking many soldiers learned to adapt to.
“We have learned better than to be shy about such trifling immodesties. In time things far worse than that came easy to us… Enforced publicity has in our eyes restored the character of complete innocence to all these things” (Remarque 8).
This profile did not shy away from addressing issues such as depression, coping mechanisms and gore. The photograph above depicts French soldiers waiting for a train to transport them to the front after a period of leave in Paris. The admin writes that the haggard state of the men is likely due to rigorous drinking done the night before. In Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, we are introduced to the presence of alcoholism in World War One and how it became a crutch and/or escape for many of the men involved in the war.
CaptioninG Information & SUBSCRIBER INTERACTIONS
While the subjects of the photograph are compelling to observe, the narratives and stories posted alongside them ask the viewer to acknowledge and appreciate the subject’s struggles and triumphs. Together with the colorization of the photos, the detailed accounts and deep-dive into history inspire feelings of reflection and empathy. The photograph below depicts a French soldier, Pierre, writing a letter to his wife on September 22, 1916. I have selected and written out an excerpt from the letter, as the captioning was too long to fit in a single screenshot.
“My dear Édith, life here is very hard. In the trenches, the stench of the dead reigns. Rats invade us, parasites eat our skin; we live in the mud, it invades us, slows us down, and tears our boots. The cold is added to these tortures. This icy wind which freezes our bones, it hunts us every day. At night, it is impossible for us to sleep. To must be ready at any moment, ready to attack, ready to kill. To kill, that is the focal point of our existence. They keep telling us that you must kill to survive, but I prefer saying live to kill. This is how I exist every minute in this inferno. Without hygiene. Without rest. Without you. Without life. This is nothing compared to the morbid trenches they send us to. On the battlefield, one finds nothing but corpses, poor soldiers rotting on the blood-soaked ground. The shells, the mines, they destroy everything in their path. Everything is in ruins. The stench of mass graves, the sound of the cannons, the screams of comrades…I write this letter to you when I should be alongside the others, fighting for my country. Our country doesn’t aid us much. They send us to massacre men while they sit at their desks; but in reality, I’m sure they’re terrified of death.”
German soldier Søren P. Petersen reported of his challenges with rats on January 23, 1916:
“In the basements below the shattered houses we lay in reserve. The quarters would’ve been more than comfortable had we not been forced to share them with an uncountable amount of rats. The selfish bastards devoured everything that was somewhat edible, and all foodstuffs we couldn’t store away we had to hang up with string from the ceiling. They crept in under our blankets when we were sleeping and ran across our faces, but I never once heard of anyone being bitten by them.”
The comment section on almost all of the photographs posted to this account hold large amounts of questions from subscribers. What I found to be impressive was the admin’s interactions with their followers and consistency in answering the numerous questions with lengthy and informed responses.
This account is one that I will continue to follow even after the conclusion of this assignment. The admin of this profile posts multiple pictures every day and never fails to caption them with long, touching stories as well as accurate historical backgrounds.