Saturday, February 7, 2004

Red Scare (1918-1921)

history > US
An amazing collection of photos, cartoons and other visual material from post WWI USA.
From the introduction:

RED SCARE is an image database about the period in the history of the United States immediately following World War I. The dates are approximately from the Armistice in November of 1918 to the collapse of hyper-inflation in mid-1920. Within these two dates the country witnessed--not so much in rapid succession as concurrently--a deadly flu epidemic, a strike wave of unparalled proportions, harsh suppression in some cases of those strikes, race riots, hyper-inflation, mass round-ups and deportations of foreign born citizens, expulsion of duely-elected officials from various offices in government, an incapacitated president, espionage laws, sedition laws and, of course, the advent of Prohibition and women's suffrage.

It was a time then of great upheaval, of right-thinking men--in the words of Walter Lippmann--"scared out of their wits". It is this fear that Red Scare seeks to document, not only as it related to what variously were called "Reds", "Anarchists", "Outside Foreign-Born Radical Agitators" and the like (though of course they play an important role here), but rather the whole breadth of experiences from this period of which the anti-red hysteria was one symptom. Indeed, it is because the anti-red hysteria was so emblematic of the time, that we use it in the context of this database as a short-hand way of expressing the whole period.

For history buffs world wide, a great example of how visual material from an era can bring it to life.

I can't help but point out this image which, with a slight relabelling could be used today, a different use of the word "Soviet" (as in sovietism - and are some of these folks Drew Barrymore's Grand Parents?), a political cartoon which evades my poor historical knowledge of the time (Belgium? Why?), some rather obvious propaganda efforts, an era of increased labour power and viewpoints not yet called fascist.


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