Part of a roundtable discussion on the role of photographs and photography in understanding 20th-century American history. Discusses the essays from other contributors to the roundtable, which as a whole pose the questions "what does the historian need to know to interpret a photograph?" and "how stable are images as records of the past?" Awareness of the intent of the photographer is only one starting point when evaluating the historical value of a photograph. The intent of the subject, publisher, archivist, and distributor all contribute to the "meaning" of a photograph. Knowing these intents can help a historian interpret a photograph as a historical document, but the stability of the image as a record of the past must also be considered, particularly as technology makes the photographs available in new and altered forms.
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