War Photography in “From Tintypes to .TIFFs” Exhibit

In addition to its timeline of photographic processes, the Special Collection Research Center (SCRC)’s “From Tintypes to .TIFFs: Life through the Lens” exhibit explores particularly interesting photographic collections in our holdings. Photographs from one of the collections highlighted, the Military Assistance Group, Vietnam (MACV) Team 58 collection by 1st Lieutenant Al Short, provide a glimpse of what daily life was like for a young military advisor in a South Vietnamese province in the mid-1960s, when America’s involvement in the war escalated. Short used a Minox 16 mm camera that could fit underneath a bush hat, allowing him to take photos virtually anywhere.

SCRC purchased the first part of our collection of MACV Team 58 photos from a rare books and manuscripts dealer in 2011, and a student archives assistant processed and created a finding aid for the collection. In 2015, SCRC’s Digital and Exhibitions Archivist Bob Vay digitized the collection, and Lieutenant Short, a resident of the Fairfax area, contacted SCRC once he saw the photos. Short noticed that he could provide more detailed information and context for many of the photographs that SCRC purchased, and he also had 94 photographs of his own that his mother had kept from his time in South Vietnam as a member of MACV Team 58. Short generously donated his own photos to SCRC, and he spent a significant amount of time in the SCRC reading room hand-writing additional information about the collection on a printed version of the existing finding aid. The updated finding aid can be found here: https://scrc.gmu.edu/finding_aids/macv58.html, as can links to the digital versions of the first 104 photographs (the images purchased by SCRC).

Army of the Republic of Vietnam 2nd Battalion 31st Infantry regiment in the field in the vicinity of Vi Thanh, early-mid 1965.
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Team 58 photograph collection, C0196, Box 1, Page 39, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Stay tuned to this collection, as SCRC is about to digitize the remaining 94 photographs by Al Short, including the images currently on display in the “From Tintypes to .TIFFs” exhibit. The images will be available online in time for a May 2018 meeting of MACV Team 58 members in Texas.

Follow Special Collections Research Center on Social Media at our FacebookInstagram, and Twitter accounts. To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.