Photos of The Great War

Photos of The Great War is an "imagebase" dedicated to the study of World War I. Its mission is to provide photos to historians, authors, students, families of veterans, or anyone with an interest in The Great War. More than this, however, it is a tribute to the millions of souls whose lives were lost or irreversably altered by this terrible conflict. Their memories live on, in some small way, through these images.

Because I view World War I as the defining event of the 20th century, I started the site in late 1997, at which time there were very few sources of Great War photos on the Web. Due to my pathological love of books, I had amassed a sizable number of contemporary (c. 1914-1920) photohistories, and images scanned from these formed the first collection. Since anything worth doing is worth overdoing, it only took a short amount of time before I had exceeded the 5MB limit imposed by my ISP (remember, this was 1997). At the time, I was a member of the WWI-L listserv, where I met Jane Plotke, co-owner of the list and the WWI/WWW project at the University of Kansas. Jane was kind enough to offer me a home on her site and on 27 Aug 1998, Photos of The Great War became part of what is now the Great War Primary Document Archive.

As stated in the Image Use Policy, all images on the site, unless otherwise specified, are in the public domain. The captions are taken from the original sources, unless I had definite knowledge that these were incorrect, a problem which is unfortunately not uncommon among "popular" histories. The photos naturally vary in quality due to age and/or medium and, other than cropping, have not been altered.

Since beginning the site, I have sometimes been overwhelmed by the response it has received. It has been the source of images for numerous books, articles, websites, documentaries, and museum projects, and I regularly receive new emails requesting information or offering photo contributions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped to make the site a success and, not least of all, Jane Plotke for her continued support, guidance, and friendship.

As the 100th anniversary of the beginning of The Great War approaches, I hope to continually expand the site as part of an ongoing educational service to anyone with a desire for knowledge about one of history's pivotal events.

Ray Mentzer
March 1, 2009