, 10 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Today marks the beginning of #BlackHistoryMonth - here's a quick little thread on my very preliminary findings re: photographs of black Canadians in Canada's official First World War photographs 👇🏿👇🏿👇🏿
(Photograph is: Three black soldiers in a German dug-out captured during the advance East of Arras, October 1918, William Rider-Rider).
Obviously, soldiers of all combatant nations were fired up to fight for their countries beginning in 1914 because they felt a deep sense of patriotism. This was not divided along racial lines (race isn't a real thing, duh).
So here's the thing, all of the numbers I'm about to present in this #thread are super preliminary and are based on a really quick search. These are just some initial findings since I became interested in the topic of minority representations in Canadian official #warphotos.
Along with the photograph I posted at the top of this thread, there is just one other in the Canadian collection of official war photographs that shows black soldiers. (official=government commissioned photographs).
(Photograph is: Washing Day, Ivor Castle, September 1916, LAC MIKAN 3396685).
So, of an estimated 1250-2000 black soldiers (I've seen both numbers, will use 2000 for today's thread), there are 2 photographs in the collection, out of ca. 4500 images.
It's important to note: official photographers (Knobel, Castle, Rider-Rider) were NOT given specific assignments of what to photograph or what not to photograph (other than the obvious: don't photograph mangled/gruesome dead Canadians).
I searched the database pretty thoroughly looking for images of black soldiers. I tried all sorts of terrible words, and could only find these two. SO, while black soldiers made up about 0.32% of the CEF, they make up 0.04% of the photographs.
I'm sure there's a whole lot more to unpack here, but we can say that although there were a comparatively small number of black soldiers, they were under-represented in the official photographs.
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