WWII photo archive captures the realities of the world at war

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Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Mills
December 6, 1943- A hole blasted through a hill-top wall in Italy gives this Canadian a vantage point from which to observe enemy movements while men of his unit move into a new position.This image is just one of the thousands of WWII photos recently donated to McMaster University Library by the Hamilton Spectator.

December 6, 1943- A hole blasted through a hill-top wall in Italy gives this Canadian a vantage point from which to observe enemy movements while men of his unit move into a new position.This image is just one of the thousands of WWII photos recently donated to McMaster University Library by the Hamilton Spectator.

70 years ago this month, Germany surrendered to Allied forces, ending five long years of war in Europe.

McMaster University Library is now home to a collection of photos that capture that tumultuous time and bring the war years vividly to life.

The Hamilton Spectator has donated its extensive World War II Photo Collection to McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

The collection contains thousands of black and white photos taken by the Associated Press and other news wire services that illustrate the pivotal battles, political events and human tragedies that took place during WWII.

“We are very grateful to the Hamilton Spectator for the donation of this remarkable collection,” says Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian. “This photo archive visually documents some of the most significant events of the last hundred years. We are so pleased to house this collection at McMaster and to ensure that is preserved for current and future generations of students and scholars to help them better understand the realities of world war.”  

The images in the collection capture the seminal events of the war including the German invasion of Poland, the fiery aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbour and the D-Day invasions.

They also provide insight into Canada’s involvement in a number of key campaigns including a set of photos that illustrate the experiences of Canadian soldiers as they fought their way through Italy.

"The Hamilton Spectator is very proud to have its World War II photo archive at McMaster University," says Neil Oliver, Publisher of the Hamilton Spectator. "Our job is to tell stories - to report on events and help our readers make sense of their world. Photographs are a powerful tool in this quest. As the community's newspaper since 1846, The Hamilton Spectator wanted to collaborate with our community's university to allow students, faculty and researchers access to these stories for both scholarship and for preservation. We are so proud to have created this legacy with McMaster University."

Lewis says the collection complements McMaster Library’s extensive World War I and II archives which include personal diaries & letters, top secret maps and stories of survival in concentration camps, among many other materials.