WWI African American Veteran Amputee with Prosthetic Legs, circa 1918

Lot of 2 photographs of an unidentified African American WWI veteran with both of his legs amputated below the knee. In a larger image (6.25 x 8 in.), the soldier is depicted seated, his legs bandaged, with prosthetic legs positioned on either side. The legs are outfitted with patent-leather shoes, braces, and laced leather cuffs above the socket. A smaller image (3.5 x 4.25 in.) captures the veteran standing and wearing the prosthetics, the leather cuffs laced around his thighs. 

The unparalleled destruction in the First World War combined with improved medical techniques and care led to many more soldiers surviving amputations and necessitating improvements in prosthetic device technology. The Artificial Limb Laboratory opened at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC in 1917 and aimed to return veterans to the workforce with improved prosthetics, earning them the nickname "bionic men." This veteran is a testament to the thousands of Black men who served in World War I. Although units were segregated and many were forced into support roles, there were several units on the frontlines who fought with the French Army, famously the Harlem Hellfighters of the 369th Infantry Regiment. 


Images unmounted. 

Estimate: $600 - $800
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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