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Highlights Archives

Photos of U.S. Intervention in Russia, 1918-1919

Two officers are seated in a horse-drawn sleigh, Russia circa 1918.
WHI 102739

Robert Colton Johnson (1894-1969) was among the many young Wisconsin men sent to far northern Russian at the close of World War I. He grew up in Madison, where his father was dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from college, he entered the military and served as adjutant and chief photographer with the U.S. Army's North Russian Expeditionary force based in Archangel, 1918-1919.

Most Images Never Published Before

Johnson's collection of glass-plate and nitrate negatives records the efforts of the Allied forces as they defended the area from Bolshevik attacks. As an engineer, he was careful to document numerous types and styles of blockhouse fortifications. As a soldier, he also took photographs of the forces fighting alongside the Americans and the lifestyle of the troops. He also recorded Allied soldiers' interactions with local Russians, capturing images of their heritage and culture as expressed in local markets, religious buildings and ceremonies, and day-to-day life. Most of his images have never been published before.

:: Posted December 16, 2013

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