French WWI Physiotherapy Images

In 1916, the Photographic Division of the Army in the French Ministry of War published collections of photographs documenting aspects of French involvement in World War I. The collections were grouped by theme and published in 20 separate instalments (fascicles), which in turn were published in two larger volumes.

The entire series was edited by Victor-Eugène Ardouin-Dumazet (1852–1940).  Ardouin-Dumazet was a French journalist best known as editor of Voyage en France between 1893 and 1907.  Intended as a tourist guide, the Voyage ran to some 70 volumes and documenting in minute detail the economic order of urban and rural France during the period.

1916 was a crucial year for France during World War I, being marked by the two great battles fought on its territory: the Battle of Verdun, which began on February 21 and raged until the middle of December, and the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1 and continued to mid-November. The number of casualties can never be known, but by some estimates France suffered as many as one million killed, wounded, and taken prisoner in these two battles.

These volumes, produced for propaganda purposes, give little indication of the sufferings of the common soldier. The dead and wounded are generally not shown and trenches are depicted as neat and dry. On the other hand, the destruction to French towns and the French countryside wrought by the invading Germans is shown in considerable detail.

Fascicle XIV is devoted to care of the wounded.  The war became a testing ground for new and old therapies.

Fascicle XIV is available from

Posted by Glenn Ruscoe

Glenn is a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist working in private practice in Perth, Australia. A strong advocate for the profession, Glenn has been heavily involved in leadership of professional associations and regulatory boards. Currently he is Managing Director of the Registry Operator of the .physio domain top level extension.

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