Libraries presents exhibit 'From the Trenches: The Great War in Sepia'

January 13, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A view into the humanity and tragedy of World War I through rare battlefield images comprises “From the Trenches: The Great War in Sepia,” a new exhibit located in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, 103 Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The exhibit will be on display through Friday, May 5.

“From the Trenches: The Great War in Sepia,” recognizes the centennial anniversary of America’s entry into the “Great War,” and captures the perspective of the common foot soldier. Drawing from more than 350 archived images taken from the original glass-plate stereographic photographs in the Keystone View Company’s World War I Stereographic Views Collection, the exhibit is free and open to the public during the Special Collections Library’s operating hours.

The Keystone View Company, located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, was a leading manufacturer of travel and scenic stereographic views and was one of the only publishers permitted to photograph World War I military operations. The images present American and allied troops and the casualties from the “war to end all wars” as this conflict reset national boundaries, liberated countries and colonies, and introduced the grim reality of mechanized warfare.

Covering the time period between the start of the war in 1914 through the Paris Peace Victory Parade in 1919, the scenes include troop activities; trench warfare; weapons and military equipment; medical care of the wounded; and the destruction of camps, buildings and towns. The 55 images on display are accompanied by descriptions that provide details about the war’s chronology, impact, devastation and aftermath.

The Keystone View Company’s World War I Stereographic Views Collection was donated to the University Libraries in 1999 with a wooden storage case and a small viewer. Stereographic slides require special handling and conservation and one of the exhibit cases will explain the care required for this collection’s special properties.

Also on display in the Special Collections Library are World War I patriotic recruitment posters digitally reproduced from the originals in the War Posters Collection. The posters highlight the significant role women played in supporting the Allied war effort and reveal the government’s skillful appropriation of the feminine ideal for wartime propaganda.

For more information about the exhibit or posters display, or questions about accommodations, contact James Quigel at 814-863-3181 or

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 20, 2017