This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.
What people, objects and activities do you notice? What year do you think this is? Let us know in the comments! Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight. What can these details tell you about life in Florida at the time the photo was taken?
Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see? Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?
Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!
For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.
UPDATE: Florida in WWII
As many have observed, this photograph is of African American soldiers, circa 1943, at Camp Gordon Johnston during World War II. These soldiers are shown outside of their barracks. As Kim Atkins noted in the comments below, this photograph shows the soldiers relaxing. Notice the smile on the central standing soldier’s face and the man coming through his legs with an even bigger smile on his face!
On the duck sign, the number “816” indicates the unit number. As an amphibious track company, Unit 816 would be training for beach arrival on an enemy shore. Beaches and marshes provided the perfect classroom for preparing soldiers to engage in amphibious warfare.
For more information on Florida in WWII, check out our new online exhibit here.