Moving Pictures

The film excerpts on view in the exhibition were selected from the many reels that were shot to document the work of the American Committee for Devastated France during and after the First World War. As early as 1914, Anne Morgan had recognized the fund-raising potential of film, hosting the first New York screening of the Chicago Tribune’s groundbreaking war newsreels. Over the next few years, millions of Americans crowded into theaters to watch similar footage, a portion of box office proceeds often benefiting organizations such as the Red Cross.

When Morgan’s own relief committee launched operations in France in 1917, the moving image became a central tool in its publicity campaign. While the earliest films were produced in cooperation with the French army’s well-established cinema unit, the American Committee later formed its own dedicated filmmaking team.

American Committee for Devastated France Film

A camera operator worked with volunteers from the American Committee for Devastated France to document the lives of French refugees.