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American Field Service World War II Photographic Collection

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Photographs

Negatives

Slides

Albums

Unsorted 1



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American Field Service World War II Photographic Collection, 1939-1956 | Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs

By Nicole Milano

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Collection Overview

Title: American Field Service World War II Photographic Collection, 1939-1956Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1940-1945

ID: RG2/002

Creator: American Field Service

Extent: 15.09 Cubic Feet. More info below.

Arrangement:

This collection is partially processed by genre into the following four series: Prints, Negatives, Lantern Slides, and Albums.

See the individual series descriptions for more information.

Languages: English

Abstract

The American Field Service (AFS) was an ambulance organization founded in World War I and reactivated in 1939 under the leadership of Director General Stephen Galatti.  American volunteers drove ambulances in France, North Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Germany, and India and Burma, and carried over 700,000 casualties by the end of World War II.  The World War II Photographic Collection includes photographic prints, negatives, lantern slides, and photographic albums collected by American Field Service staff at their New York headquarters during World War II.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The World War II Photographic Collection includes photographic prints, negatives, lantern slides, and photographic albums collected by American Field Service (AFS) staff at their New York headquarters during World War II.  AFS commissioned staff photographers to take photographs of the events and activities of the organization in the various theaters of war.  The photographers would then send the negatives or prints (if they were able to develop them in the field) back to AFS headquarters in New York.  These images were used by AFS for documentation, public relations, and publicity purposes.

The photographic records of the American Field Service’s activities in World War II are useful in the study of American involvement prior to the United States’ entrance into the war in 1942, and the continued service alongside foreign forces until the cessation of wartime hostilities in 1945.  The collection depicts the voluntary activities of AFS (including assisting injured soldiers), local landscapes and civilians (including images of Damascus and civilians in Italy), major events and battles in the war (including the Battle of Monte Cassino and the evacuation of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp after its liberation), and groups and individuals involved in the war (including ambulance drivers and British military personnel who served alongside AFS.)

See the individual series descriptions for more information.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 30 boxes

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.  Cotton gloves are required for the handling of all photographic material.  The lantern slides are very fragile, and some have become cracked or broken over time.  As such, permission to view the lantern slides must be obtained from the AFS Archives in advance.  The rolled photographs in Series 1 are brittle and consequently not available for research at this time.

Use Restrictions: Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Archives. In the event that this research becomes a source for publication, a credit line indicating the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs is required. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Acquisition Method: This collection was compiled by the American Field Service staff during World War II, and was transferred to the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs at an unknown date. Two albums put together by Carl Zeigler, as well as black and white slides produced by Carl Zeigler, were donated to AFS in 1971 by his wife, Elinor Zeigler.

Appraisal Information: The photographs and negatives in the Irving Penn Photographic Collection (RG2/003) were originally part of this collection, but were separated by the AFS Archives staff as a topical collection at an unknown date.  Because Penn’s photographs were removed after the war by AFS Archives staff, some of his photographs may still remain unidentified in the official AFS World War II Photographic Collection (such as the “Ambulances and Plaques” folder in Subseries 1E, which has what seems to be Penn’s handwriting on the verso of the photographs.)  No other material has been removed, separated, or deaccessioned.

Related Materials: There are many World War II photographs in the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs that were donated by American Field Service (AFS) ambulance drivers or their heirs after the war.  These can be identified by searching the “Photographs” subject term in the finding aid list.  For photographs taken by Irving Penn, who served as an AFS staff photographer in Italy and India, see the Irving Penn Photographic Collection (RG2/003.)  For photographic material related to the involvement of AFS in World War I, see the American Field Service World War I Photographic Collection (RG1/002.)

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], [Date]; World War II Photographic Collection; Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs, New York, NY.

Processing Information: This collection was partially processed by AFS Archives staff at an unknown date, and again by Nicole Milano in 2011 and 2018.  Preliminary finding aid written and encoded in EAD by Nicole Milano in June 2011 under the scope of the 2010-2011 Basic Processing grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and updated in 2018.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Photographs, ca. 1939-1956 (bulk 1940-1945)],
[Series 2: Negatives, ca. 1939-1946],
[Series 3: Slides, ca. 1941-1945],
[Series 4: Albums, 1940-1945],
[Unsorted 1],
[All]

Series 2: Negatives, ca. 1939-1946Add to your cart.

3.15 cubic feet (4 boxes)

This series includes approximately 1,600 loose negatives.  The bulk of the images were taken by various AFS staff photographers (including George E. Holton, Richard S. Stockton, William K. DuVal, Lewis M. Purnell, and Loftus B. Cuddy, Jr.) who were commissioned by AFS headquarters in New York to take photographs meant for publicity or identification purposes during World War II (ca. 1939-1945, though there are a few negatives from 1946.)

A large portion of the negatives are dedicated to personnel, arranged by the ambulance driver’s last name.  These negatives often include only one ambulance driver, but can also include more than one individual, though they were intentionally filed under one name.  The other negatives cover all topics, including daily activities, ambulances, civilians, and local landscapes in all theaters of the war in which AFS participated.  It appears that New York headquarters staff arranged the non-personnel negatives topically, often by theater of war or military force (i.e. the Middle East or British Liberation Army), and this arrangement has been maintained when possible.

Many of the negatives have a corresponding positive print in Series 1, though this is not true for all the negatives.  Typically, if there is a corresponding photographic print, it will be housed in the same titled folder (i.e.  a negative in Series 2 folder “Italy- Evacuations” will have a positive print in the Series 1 folder “Italy-Evacuations.”)  Because the material has not been arranged at the item level, this is not the case for all the photographs and negatives (i.e. some “Middle East- Ambulances” negatives may have prints in the “Middle East-Maintenance” folder.)  There are no corresponding negatives for the American Ambulance, Great Britain or the AFS service in the Kenya colony photographs, both of which were interim activities before AFS officially served with the British 8th Army in the Middle East.  There are also no negatives for the service of AFS with the French Army in either 1939-1940 or in 1945, though there are photographic prints for these in Series 1.

The negatives are arranged at the folder level into the following seven subseries: Subseries 2A: Personnel, Subseries 2B: Middle East, Subseries 2C: Italy, Subseries 2D: India and Burma, Subseries 2D: British Liberation Army, Subseries 2F: United States of America, and Subseries 2G: All Theaters.  The bulk of the negatives have been identified individually in labeled.  It appears that AFS may have housed the negatives with the photographic prints during the war, and that they were later separated by AFS Archives staff, though this is not a certainty.  Any original World War II envelopes that originally housed the negatives were kept, though they are now physically separated by a protective sleeve.

Subseries 2A: Personnel, ca. 1939-1945Add to your cart.
Box 20: A-S (Folder 1 of 2), ca. 1939-1945Add to your cart.
Box 21: S (Folder 2 of 2)-Z, ca. 1939-1945Add to your cart.
Subseries 2B: Middle East, ca. 1941-1943Add to your cart.
Box 22: Ambulances- Syria, ca. 1941-1943Add to your cart.
Subseries 2C: Italy, ca. 1943-1945Add to your cart.
Box 22: Ambulances- Regimental Aid Posts/Advanced Dressing Stations, Etc., ca. 1943-1945Add to your cart.
Subseries 2D: India and Burma, ca. 1941-1945Add to your cart.
Box 23: Ambulances and Other Vehicles- Training Trip, ca. 1941-1945Add to your cart.
Subseries 2E: British Liberation Army, 1945Add to your cart.
Box 23: Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp- Miscellaneous, 1945Add to your cart.
Subseries 2F: United States of America, ca. 1940-1946Add to your cart.
Box 23: British Embassy (Washington D.C.)- Presentation of British Empire Medal to Ben Ford and Dick Field (Plaza Hotel, New York, NY), ca. 1940-1946Add to your cart.
Subseries 2G: All Theaters, ca. 1940-1945Add to your cart.
Box 23: Galatti Groups- ShipboardAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Photographs, ca. 1939-1956 (bulk 1940-1945)],
[Series 2: Negatives, ca. 1939-1946],
[Series 3: Slides, ca. 1941-1945],
[Series 4: Albums, 1940-1945],
[Unsorted 1],
[All]


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