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Department 1

Civil War Institute


Photography: the ability to capture a moment in time exactly as it appeared, to then preserve it for posterity, even mass produce it for a wide viewership. A relatively new concept by the beginning of the American Civil War, photography quickly came into its own in the hands of such legends as Matthew Bray and Alexander Gardner as they sought to document the furious storm which had swept over the land. Photographs of the Civil War are prolific, and for many the memory of the conflict is intertwined with black-and-white photographs of unsmiling men and corpses bloating in the sun. Yet as I sat in Gettysburg College Special Collections, reverently paging through original issues of some of the era’s most famous illustrated newspapers, I could not help but notice the deficiencies inherent in Civil war photography when compared with other media, most notably the work of sketch artists. [excerpt]


This blog post originally appeared in The Gettysburg Compiler and was created by students at Gettysburg College.