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[Group of Unidentified Soldiers]

Date ca. 1918
Location Camp Dodge Iowa United States
Dimensions Image: 3 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (8.6 x 13.7 cm)
Mount: 3 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (8.6 x 13.7 cm)
Print medium Photo-Gelatin silver

During World War I, the South furnished the bulk of the African American men called up through the draft. Normally, men would be assigned to training camps nearest their homes, but the War Department, wanting to avoid an over-concentration of black recruits at any one camp, sent many African Americans to camps in the North. The soldiers pictured here, members of the 88th Division of the U.S. Army, were among the first African Americans to be trained to fight in the war. According to information on the verso, they were photographed at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on June 14, 1918, by Clarence Bruce Santee of Des Moines. Santee was an African American itinerant photographer from Texas who specialized in portrait photographs at studios in Des Moines, Kansas City, and finally Dallas, where, by the 1930s, he was moderately successful.
Ten days after this photograph was taken, three black soldiers at Camp Dodge were accused of raping a white woman in the area. Found guilty by a military court martial, on July 5 they were hanged on camp grounds. The executions were witnessed by the entire 88th Division, by order of camp commanders.

Credit line

Gift of Daniel Cowin, 1990

Feedback Accession No. 1085.1990