Memorial to a Fallen Soldier: Doug Jordan, 1961-2020

With great sadness, I must report the fact that my close friend and collecting partner, Doug Jordan, passed away peacefully after a long illness just over a month ago, on 15 January. I’ve written a memorial piece for Stereo World‘s latest issue, reproduced below. I’ve also neglected this blog for several months; real life concerns, including preparing for stewardship over the Boyd/Jordan Collection, were more important. And to be honest, I haven’t quite had the motivation since finding out that the friend who pushed me to start this blog in the first place was departing.

While I still have every intention of making posts on here from time to time, including some that were in the pipe already when I got the news in September, I’m not going to have the time to make a dozen-plus posts in a month as I had sometimes done before. Maintaining and adding to the Collection are going to occupy a lot of my stereography time. This blog isn’t going anywhere, but it’s just going to have to take a back seat indefinitely. I’m also completing a three-part article series for Stereo World that Doug and I had been working on for the last eighteen months; this is going to eat a lot of the time that I would otherwise be blogging about VistaScreen, etc. I hope you’ll keep checking in though.

Doug was the biggest backer of this blog; he’d often call or email me after a post went live to laugh about some of my commentary or make a correction. A great many of my Great War posts were made while scanning things to add to his fantastic online repository, which I hope you’ve all checked out numerous times by now. These will continue, along with posts on other topics, of course. But without the backseat commentary of my dearest stereographically inclined friend. Requiescat in pace, Doug.

Doug Jordan, 1961-2020 (Published in Stereo World)

With great sadness, I must report the passing of notable Great War stereographical scholar Doug Jordan on 15 January, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Our community has lost not only a stringent archivist, who digitized thousands of stereoviews for royalty-free use, and whose images have appeared time and time again in Stereo World. We have lost a brilliant, hilarious, helpful, generous, and kind member of our community, who was equally happy to discuss minutiae with his Great War peers as to help those just starting out in the field identify items from their budding collections and suggest ways to better contextualize 3D imagery of the Great War.

During the latter years of his achievement-filled tenure as a Senior Reservoir Engineer in the Texas oil industry, Doug began collecting in earnest, soon finding a comrade in Bob Boyd, whose primary interest was in researching the cards and slides in order to catalogue them. When Boyd passed a large part of his collection, as well as his research, off to Doug, Doug knew he had a big project ahead of him. He meticulously kept notes on everything, and after his retirement, used those notes as the backbone for the largest repository of First World War stereography online, greatwarin3d.org.

Doug’s vision was to provide a free resource for anybody interested in Great War stereoviews. And he achieved much of that vision, making comprehensive spreadsheets for almost every major manufacturer, digitizing 2/3 of the Boyd/Jordan collection, and providing research insights to people working on projects. Caring little for name recognition, Doug worked behind the scenes to make his resource the definitive one in the field, and gave everything on the site to those interested – including making hundreds of higher-res scans for people that needed them for projects. Even while undergoing numerous rounds of chemo, Doug was constantly working on charting every known artifact, his last major project being a catalogue of all identified LSU French glass stereoviews.

Doug’s sense of humor was unforgettably dry and hilarious. I was fortunate to spend the week prior to Doug’s passing with him down in Texas; as often happened, we were making fun of General Pershing’s military prowess. A nurse interrupted our conversation to take Doug’s heartbeat, and when she found it, I pointed out to Doug that this meant that he wasn’t a zombie. Without missing a beat, he replied “well if I were, I wouldn’t go after Pershing’s brains; too small a meal!”

During the same visit, I noticed a couple of back issues of Stereo World open to memorial pages such as this one. Supposing that Doug wanted me to write this piece, I asked him about taking another stereographic photo of him to use in the writeup. In typical Doug fashion, he said “nobody needs a picture of me” and suggested the I select an artifact from his collection. As our friendship had grown from a series of hours-long discussions on Realistic Travels card numeration and indexing, I selected the above image, added to the Boyd/Jordan collection five days before his death. We’d talked about how much more powerful it was than similar images of monuments alone, or of groups of people honoring the fallen. As in the image, every one of us whose lives were touched by Doug Jordan must mourn him alone, in our own way. He was truly a monolithic figure in the field of Great War stereography, and while his body has fallen like those of the Canadian troops on Vimy Ridge, his legacy will live on for everybody who uses his incredible and incomparable research, scans, and analysis going forward.

Leave a Reply