Monday, June 28, 2010

Civil War Photos

The U.S. National Archives is on Flickr, and has several collections available for public viewing, including a large selection of photographs by Mathew Brady who was, with his studio,was one of the most prolific photographers of the 19th century. His images have appeared in countless books and are part of the public consciousness of the Civil War.

He photographed everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, Ambrose Burnside, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. His extensive portfolio has been essential to our understanding of the Civil War.

Bradly rarely left Washington, but engaged photographers from his studio to photograph scenes from the Civil War. In 1862 he opened an exhibition of images from the Battle of Antietam entitled "The Dead of Antietam." Many images were extremely graphic, but were new to an American audience whose usual encounters with the realities of war usually were softened by the traditional use of "artists' impressions" in most publications. 

He photographed 18 presidents from John Quincy Adams to William McKinley. Harrison was the only president he did not photograph during this time. His photographs of Lincoln have been used for the $5 bill and the Lincoln penny. Lincoln's last known photographic portraits were taken by Bradly's employee Alexander Gardner in Washington, D.C. in 1865. 

Brady's studio generated around 10,000 plates during the war and he expected the government to purchase many of the photographs when the war ended, but was forced to file for bankruptcy when this expectation was not met. After the death of his wife and his own deteriorating eyesight, he died penniless in the charity ward of a New York hospital in 1896.

Teaching with Documents, from the National Archive:

Selected Mathew Brady Photographs:

The larger National Archives photostream:

No comments:


This site is intended solely to showcase the resources and services of the Combined Arms Research Library. The information in this site does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Department of the Army. Any mention of or use of a product or company name is for educational purposes and does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of the Army, Combined Arms Center Fort Leavenworth or the US Army Command and General Staff College.

While this is an open forum, it's also a family friendly one, so please keep your comments and posts clean.

You participate at your own risk, taking personal responsibility for your comments, your username and any information provided.

Comments and posts that violate any of the guidelines listed below may be removed:

• Do not post graphic, obscene, explicit or racial comments . We also do not allow comments that are abusive, hateful, vindictive or intended to defame anyone or any organization.

• Do not post any solicitations (i.e.: asking users to "like" your Facebook page, visit your website, sign a petition, contribute to a fundraiser).

• Do not post advertisements, prize contests or giveaways. This includes promotion or endorsement of any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. Similarly, we do not allow attempts to defame or defraud any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency.

• Do not post details about an ongoing investigation or legal or administrative proceeding that could prejudice the processes or could interfere with an individual's rights will be deleted from this page.

• Apparent spamming or trolling will be removed and may cause the author(s) to be blocked from the page without notice.

• Do not post copyrighted or trademarked images or graphics. Imagery posted on the Facebook wall should be owned by the user.

• Do not post comments, photos or videos that suggest or encourage illegal activity.

• Do not post political propaganda.

• Do not post documents of any kind.

• All information posted to social media sites will be unclassified. No FOUO (for official use only), classified, pre-decisional, proprietary or business-sensitive information should ever be posted or discussed on this page. Don’t post personnel lists, rosters, organization charts or directories. This is a violation of privacy.

The appearance of external links or the use of third-party applications on this site does not constitute official endorsement on behalf of the U.S. Army or Department of Defense.

For more information, visit the DoD Social Media user agreement at:

You are encouraged to quote, republish or share any content on this site on your own blog, Web site or other communication/publication. If you do so, please credit the Army unit or the person who authored the content as a courtesy.