The photograph's relationship to history and memory has been extensively theorised, but little empirical research has been undertaken to understand how these ideas intersect with the experience of photographs as historical forms in everyday life. This paper explores the complexity of photographs' temporality and evaluates their memorial status through the prism of a distinctive body of material: the 55,000 amateur photographs taken on a single day in 1987 donated to a fundraising event entitled One Day for Life. Notions of history inflect the project from its original conception through to its preservation. This paper brings the extensive archival materials and the published edits of the photographs into analytical conjunction with reflections generated through questionnaires and interviews with One Day for Life participants, organisers, judges, publishers and archivists. Through the analysis, this paper argues that the predominant tendency to treat photographs merely as historical sources or as memory aids overlooks their productive potential as historical performances in their own right.
Bibliographical noteThis article was published as “Historians in Two Hundred Years' Time Are Going to Die for That!”: Historiography and Temporality in the “One Day for Life” Photography Archive
Annebella Pollen, History and Memory Vol. 25, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2013) (pp. 66-101). No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For educational re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (508-744-3350). For all other permissions, please visit Indiana University Press' permissions page.