The Spanish American War on Screen
The Spanish American War (SAW), with its drama and nationalistic fervor, was a natural for screen presentation, and many companies rushed to provide slides for this current events topic.
The War began with the explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor on Feb. 15, 1898. This large broadside (26 x 40”), produced by Sears Roebuck, is copyrighted the same month, and combined War reporting with a recorded music—something of an odd combination. The 35 Spanish American War slides by Sears in the Museum’s collection are a combination of 27 photographs, mostly of ships and generals—and 10 illustrations, almost all by Beale, who created 49 SAW images.
It is Beale’s illustrations that portray the drama of war, like the explosion of the Maine, where it was impossible to take action photographs. Though most of the photographs are rather static, the bleak image of the sunken Maine makes a dramatic contrast with Beale’s explosion.