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Interesting Old Human Formation Pictures

by Brett M. Christensen

Message contains several old human formation photographs that depict the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the American Eagle symbol, the US Shield and more. The images are created by thousands of US soldiers and sailors standing in formation.

Brief Analysis:
The photographs are genuine and were created by Arthur Mole and John Thomas during the early years of the 20th Century. Mole and Thomas created a whole series of human formation pictures representing important religious and military related symbols.


Unusual old pictures!

Look closely at the pictures, they are soldiers and sailors.


During the WW I years, Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas Made some incredible human pictures by using Thousands of sailors or soldiers in uniform to create the following images.

Detailed Analysis:
These intriguing old photographs circulate via email and online. The photographs are genuine and were created by Arthur Mole and John Thomas during the early years of the 20th Century. Mole and Thomas created a whole series of human formation pictures representing important religious and military related symbols, including the Liberty Bell, complete with crack, the Statue of Liberty, the American Eagle, a “portrait” of President Wilson, the US Shield, and a number of others. These living representations of revered symbols of American patriotism were used to promote support of America’s involvement in the 1st World War.

Mole called his creations “living photographs”. The images took a great deal of time and effort to set up, and required the help of many thousands of individual soldiers and sailors. An article about Thomas and Mole’s work on Cabinet Magazine Online notes:

Mole and Thomas would spend a week or more on preparations for each photograph. This began by tracing the desired image on a ground-glass plate mounted on Mole’s camera. Using a megaphone, body language, and a long pole with a white flag tied to the end to point to the more remote areas where the bulk of the troops had to be stationed, Mole would then position his helpers on the field as they nailed the pattern to the ground with miles of lace edging. In this way, Mole also figured out the exact number of troops required. These steps were preliminary to the many hours required to assemble and position the troops on the day of shooting. For The Human Liberty Bell, Mole and Thomas traveled to Camp Dix, New Jersey (not far from the City of Brotherly Love), to assemble 25,000 troops in the shape of this national icon.

In a time when images can be manipulated with ease using sophisticated software, one can certainly appreciate the dedication and perseverance that would have been required to create these wonderful old photographs. Works by Mole and Thomas are housed in collections at the Library of Congress, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Last updated: Jan 16 2013
First published: 14 2007
By Brett M. Christensen
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