When Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, effective February 28, 2013, he caught almost everyone by surprise. No sooner was the announcement made than the media began casting about for how long it had been since a pope had resigned rather than die in office. The morning after the announcement, one TV show host stated confidently that it had been 719 years, a number that takes us back to the reign of Celestine V who resigned in 1294. Later, however, a consensus emerged among the various news shows that the most recent resignation of a pope had actually come just under six centuries ago (1415) and involved Pope Gregory XII.
The passion for recording our lives, fostered today by the availability of simple digital cameras and posting sites like Flickr, has a long history. African American leaders very early on understood the uses of photography for both self-expression and political struggle. Leigh Raiford notes, in her book Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle, that Sojourner Truth supported her cause by selling photos of herself at lectures and Frederick Douglass wanted to use photography to portray black life more accurately.
Photographs of war, more than photographs of any other subject, make war seem both very distant and impossibly close.
Over the past few years, most major print newspapers and magazines have started websites for showcasing photojournalism.
Looking at World War II on Wikimedia Commons
On the evening of June 24, 1941, Prime Minister of Great Britain Winston Churchill came on the radio. He declared: “Any person belonging to a country fighting against fascism will receive British aid.” He went on to say that he will give Russia and its people all the help that the British government can offer.
Private family photographs document events, such as births, marriages, and reunions, that are important in the history of individual families, but they can also teach us about the events we think of as real history.