Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Scott Reynolds Nelson

Committee Member

Arthur Knight


Advances in photography and conceptions of national identity proceeded side by side during the nineteenth century. The introduction of halftone reproductions marks the beginning of an information revolution and is an important moment not only in media history, but in studies of nineteenth and twentieth century cultural history and studies of national identity. Visual representation of differences between people and places was one means by which people identified and validated Americans' belonging because photographs were infused with authority: they seemed to be truthful, to provide infallible evidence of events and of people. as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, and technological advances made the halftone process quick and inexpensive, men and women of the Gilded Age, Progressive Era, Jazz Age, and the Great Depression used photographs for visual storytelling in the pages of newspapers, books, journals, and magazines. Editors embraced the seeming realism of photography in their publications; halftones in print helped Americans see each other in new ways and themselves for the first time on a regular, mass-circulating basis.;"The Spectacle of Citizenship" examines how three publications and their strong-willed editors used halftones to display and distribute their views of nationhood and belonging in a period when the United States was undergoing significant changes as a consequence of industrialization, immigration, urbanization, and international military and economic crisis. Paul Kellogg, editor of "Charities and the Commons," and his brood of social justice progressives used halftones to display and include/exclude immigrants, racial minorities, and workers belying reform-minded middle class Americans claims of sympathy, understanding, and acceptance and instead riddling the journal with images that construct a sense of belonging for white, middle class Americans by explicitly identifying who did and did not belong. Joseph Medill Patterson, blue-blooded founder the "Daily News," took a British idea for photograph-based newspapers aimed at the working class and reinvented it as the nation's first tabloid. The newspaper captured Jazz Age New York City with splashy photographs emphasizing crime, scandal, celebrity, politics, and world events and invented a vision of America rooted in popular culture, patriotism, and American "values". Patterson's newspaper reinforced the hegemony of white, upper and middle class Americans, but it did so with an acceptance of rapidly changing social and cultural values in the country and the recognition of the importance of the urban working class population. C.K. McClatchy, long-time editor and publisher of the "Sacramento Bee," used photographs to reinforce the suffering and make morally-loaded pleas for federal help during the Great Depression, to demonstrate the success of New Deal Programs, and to recast almost all Californians, regardless of their origin, as representative of America and Americans. Yet McClatchy s inclusive vision was problematic: he remained fervently anticommunist; he continued to believe Asian Americans, particularly Japanese Americas, could not be assimilated; and he virtually ignored the plight of Mexican Americans in the pages of the "Sacramento Bee" during the Great Depression, despite the fact that they were a significant part of the state's population.;"The Spectacle of Citizenship" is a study of the interplay of technology, society, and culture that offers a new understanding of how notions of national identity were understood, produced, and disseminated and consumed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This study analyzes the importance innovative editors placed on visual representations while at the same time demonstrating the necessity of contemporary scholars' understanding those images.



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