April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Demonstrations: Description

The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr.

Catherine Baudoin, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, USA
Beth Maloney, University of New Mexico, USA
Jim Spadaccini, Ideum, USA

The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr. ( was developed with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and the College of Education’s Technology & Education Center (TEC) at the University of New Mexico collaborated with Ideum ( to develop this interactive website.

Most of the photographs that appear on this site were taken for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) during the war years of the 1940s. The FSA/OWI hired John Collier Jr. to document day-to-day life in America with a focus on issues of civil defense and public morale. The images used for the project are part of the John Collier Jr. and Mary E.T. Collier Collection at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. These images were taken across the country from New Mexico to Maine and provide a snapshot of ordinary life in those extraordinary times.


Activities offered on the website guide users through an in-depth examination of visual media.

Active Looking (

encourages the close examination of photographs. Users will become more proficient at analyzing and decoding images – who might have created them, within what context, using what tools and for what purpose.

The Shooting Script ( explores how an image may be categorized with regards to its subject matter and how our definitions and understanding of these subjects can change over time.

The Propaganda Filmmaker

( combines photographs, text, audio and video so that users can create their own video mashup. Our goal is that these activities will build and hone observation skills that can then be used on visual images everywhere, in print and on screen.

Use of Technology

The photographs that appear in The Collection ( and within The Shooting Script activity are drawn directly from John Collier Jr.’s photos on the Flickr ( website. More than two hundred archival quality photographs were posted to Flickr for this project. The American Image site takes advantage of Flickr’s API to bring in these photographs. These "mashups" were developed in Adobe Flash. Having the collection on the Flickr site will bring John Collier Jr.’s work to new audiences and communities. We hope that conversations will continue to develop as the millions of Flickr users discover his wonderful photographs.

The Propaganda Filmmaker is another type of mashup, a way for visitors to creatively interact with film clips, graphics, and photographs produced during the 1940s to support the US effort in World War Two. Beyond John Collier Jr.’s photographs, sources for this piece came primarily from the Internet Archive Movie Archive ( and the

World War II Poster Collection ( from the Northwestern University Library.

Demonstration: Demonstrations - 1 [Close-Up]

Keywords: Collier, 1940s, photography, propaganda, american, FSA,/OWI