3-D in the 1920s

The World War through the Stereoscope, ed. By Major Joseph Mills Hanson (1927).



We have a great collection on WWI in the Watkinson, and this is just one of the gems I’ve found–very rare in its complete form, with 300 stereographs (old-fashioned 3-D).  A stereograph was “made on the principle of two-eye vision.  That is, the ordinary photograph is made by a camera with a single lens, like a person with one eye, while the stereograph is made by a camera having two lenses set about as far apart as our two eyes.”  When viewed through a stereoscope, the image leaps into the 3rd dimension!  The use of stereoscope faded after the 1920′s, so not only are these literal snapshots in time from the First World War, they are also an exemplary pop-culture artifact of the early 20th century.  The editor, Major Joseph Mills Hanson, was the son of one of the first settlers of the Dakota Territory in 1858.  Commissioned as a Captain in 1916, Hanson saw service on the Mexican border and served throughout World War I, mostly with the 147th Field Artillery (formerly the 4th South Dakota Infantry).  Each stereograph card has a long description of each “experience” printed on the back of the mount. As an example, here is a small portion the text on the back of the LOWER image:

“A BRISTLING FOREST OF BAYONETS.  RUSSIAN TROOPS ON REVIEW.  In this array of bayonetted rifles stretching as far as the eye can look, one sees the evidence of the spirit of militarism which animated all the imperialistic nations of Europe before the World War.  In this race for military superiority Russia fully kept pace with Germany and Austria-Hungary, having a peacetime army of about two million men, with as many more trained reserves.  The upkeep of such huge armies was a very heavy financial and economic burden on the nations maintaining them and it is to be hoped that after the terrible lesson of the World War such armies will never again be brought into existence…”

For the online record of this work, click here.

Comments are closed.