What’s on : Lectures

Women’s War Photography: The Pioneers

11 Jun 2019
Start time
8:00 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Pippa Oldfield, Curator Impressions Gallery, Bradford

Event Information

Women’s War Photography: The Pioneers

Dr Pippa Oldfield,

‘Discover women’s important roles in war photography’. Dr Pippa Oldfield, curator at Bradford’s Impressions Gallery, reveals the fascinating but overlooked history of female pioneers working in conflicts. Find out how women photographed the American Civil War, the First World War and the Mexican Revolution.

A lecture for York Festival of Ideas 2019

Member’s report

War photography has traditionally been dominated by men, with women not viewed as authentic witnesses. This situation is slowly changing, and Dr Oldfield identified three women pioneers in the field. During the American Civil War, in a shack at Camp Moore in 1861, Elizabeth Beachbard took ambrotype portraits of soldiers, to send to loved ones. A more conventional war photographer was Sara Castrejόn (1888- 1962), who recorded military encampments, funerals, manoeuvres, and executions by firing squad during the Mexican Revolution (1910 to 1920), and also took hundreds of portraits of both men and women soldiers. Her work was not included in public collections, and many of her glass slides were destroyed after her death. Mairi Chisholm (1896-1981) was a freelance nurse on the WW1 front line, and used a Kodak snapshot camera to record a wide range of subjects including no-man’s land, shell bursts, dead horses, and also more humorous scenes. Today, women comprise more than half those studying photography, and also lead many technical developments.

Rod Leonard

York Festival of Ideas website