South African Infantry in their glory, 1914-1920, , National Library of Scotland, CC BY-NC-SA

Large groups of people are capable of big things. Research has demonstrated that a multitude of people is often more likely to make correct estimations and take sensible decisions than its brightest individual. Great minds may think alike but many minds think better!

Being in the company of many can have a very comforting and reinforcing effect too. This dramatic shot of thousands of German prisoners during World War I would - at the time - have served as propaganda to bolster the Allies’ spirits and demoralise the Germans. Yet one could also imagine the prisoners to have felt strengthened by the presence of their comrades, retaining some hope and courage for tough days ahead. 

Demonstration during the Easter Crisis in Denmark, 1920, Holger Damgaard, National Library of Denmark, CC BY-NC-ND
Demonstration during the Easter Crisis in Denmark, 1920, Holger Damgaard, National Library of Denmark, CC BY-NC-ND

This picture depicts mass public demonstrations during the Easter crisis in Denmark, following the dismissal of the government by King Christian X. Faced with the potential overthrow of the monarchy, the king installed a compromise cabinet and accepted a drastically reduced role as symbolic head of the state.

Throughout history, large gatherings of people have been engines of political and societal change. If today’s social media possess one great strength, it’s their capability of reaching and mobilising a vast amount of people in the blink of an eye. Photographs in particular have proven to be a powerful tool in rallying supporters - both on the internet and out on the streets.  

Prayer for peace in Paris, 28 August 1939, unknown photographer, TopFoto.co.uk, In Copyright
Prayer for peace in Paris, 28 August 1939, unknown photographer, TopFoto.co.uk, In Copyright

Peaceful gatherings allows people to join forces to voice their concerns and to demand change. In the image above, Parisians young and old climbed the hills of Montmartre in 1939 to join in prayers for peace. They convened at the church of Sacre Coeur and were led in prayer by Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris.