The Dreyfus Affair in Postcards: Going Viral at the End of the 19th Century

The Dreyfus Affair in Postcards: Going Viral at the End of the 19th Century

The Blavatnik Archive and the Center for Jewish History are excited to announce an upcoming exhibit on the famous Dreyfus Affair as seen through the lens of “Dreyfusard” and “anti-Dreyfusard” postcards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was falsely accused and convicted of espionage. The ensuing political scandal divided the nation, bringing it nearly to the brink of civil war. Dreyfus’s supporters included such famous writers and artists as Émile Zola, Marcel Proust, and Claude Monet; among his opponents were Jules Verne and Edgar Degas. For both camps, the stakes of the Affair were exceptionally high, as it not only tested the impartiality and fairness of the French justice system, but also became a way to question and reevaluate fundamental social values, including the attitudes toward religious and ethnic minorities in French society.

Aided by expert commentary from Maurice Samuels, author of Alfred Dreyfus: The Man at the Center of the Affair (2024), the exhibit highlights the way that picture postcards, a new and immensely popular medium at the time, both documented the case and allowed Dreyfus’s supporters and opponents to share their “takes” through what could be considered an early form of social media.

Upcoming Exhibits

This exhibit opens on
Thursday, June 20