JAH Experiment: Journal publishes accounts of historic events by the photographers who captured them on film

Historians in the News

Several of the essays speak with a personal voice. This departure from traditional JAH tone and style is deliberate, as one of our purposes is to juxtapose different voices on related topics and themes in the history of American photography, to provoke further questions about the images, and to tease out the connections and tensions be-tween them. For example, Claude Cookman and Ted Engelmann contemplate the painful (and, for the victims of the My Lai massacre, fatal) consequences of taking photographs of people without learning their names or intervening on their behalf.
Anthony Fernandez III and David Allen help us see how differently the photographer and the subject of the photograph may experience the moment captured in a picture (a point raised as well, and even more urgently, by Cookman). Similarly, the pairing of Colleen McDannell and Barbara Orbach Natanson allows McDannell to confirm Natanson's claim that the Library of Congress collections are extraordinarily accessible through the Internet, as is much of the information historians need to understand the photos in those collections, offering us new opportunities for our work. Some pairings force us into complex conversations. Fernandez writes of expressions of the "American spirit" in the aftermath of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in 1995 and of how a similar spirit motivated his service in the U.S. Marines.1 Cookman, on the other hand, asks us to recognize our nation's potential for evil. By reading those two essays together, one is forced to retain both ideas in an uneasy relationship.

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