Date of Thesis



With the United States‘ entry into the Second World War, the word ?censorship? was seen largely as antithetical to, rather than a necessary counterpart to, victory among Americans. People did not want to be censored in their writing, photographs or speech,but it proved to be necessary even before the war began, in order to protect government secrets and the people on the home-front from scenes that were too disturbing. Even before the war had officially begun, there were problems with censorship among journalists and newspapers. The initial response of outrage in reference to censorship in the United States was common among journalists, newspapers, magazines, and radio news; nevertheless, there was a necessity for censorship among Americans, on the home frontand the front lines, and it would be tolerated throughout the war to ensure that enemies of America did not gain access to information that would assist in a defeat of the United States in the Second World War. The research I have conducted has dealt with the censorship of combat photography during World War II, in conjunction with the ethics that were in play at the time that affected the censors. Through exploring the work of three combat photographers — Tony Vaccaro, James R. Stephens and Charles E. Sumners — I wasable to effectively construct an explanatory ethical history of these three men. Research on the censorship and effects it had on the United States brought me to three distinctareas of censorship and ethics that would be explored: (1) the restrictions and limitations enforced by the Office of Censorship, (2) a general overview of war and photography as it influenced the soldiers and their families on the home-front, (3) and the combat photographers and personal and military censorship that influenced their work. Although their work was censored both by the military and the government, these men saw the war in a different light that remained with them long after the battles and war had ceased.Using the narratives of Tony Vaccaro, Charles E. Sumners and James R. Stephens as means for more in depth research, this thesis strives to create lenses through which to view the history and ethics of censorship that shaped combat photography during the Second World War and the images to which we refer as representative of that war today.


World War II, photography

Access Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

David Del Testa



Included in

History Commons