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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Alexander Gardner

Joint: Mathew Brady's Studio 
Dates:  1821, 17 October - 1882, 10 December
Born:  Great Britain, Scotland, Paisley
Died:  US, Washington
Active:  US
American photographer who photographed the American Civil War - initially with Mathew Brady. In 1867 he became the Official Photographer of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, which later became the Kansas Pacific.
The DeGolyer Library (Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275-0396, USA) has a copy of the Gardner 127 plate 1867-1868 western landscape portfolio, Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad (Route of the 35th Parallel) which was the first comprehensive western landscape survey.
[With thanks to Anne Peterson]
His obituary in the New York Times (Dec 11, 1882, p.5) read:
"Alexander Gardner, a well-known citizen of Washington, who achieved a national reputation during the late war by his photographic work with the Army of the Potomac and who has been for several years prominently connected with Masonic and other relief associations, died yesterday morning of diabetes at the age of 61. He was born in Paisley, Scotland, and emigrated to America in 1850. He was the originator of the National Relief Association and has been an officer of it since 1874."

Preparing biographies

Further research

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Mathew Brady's Studio
Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) 
1861 (ca)
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.
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Exhibitions on this website

Theme: Portrait
ThumbnailAlexander Gardner: Ogallalla Sioux (May, 1872) 
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Theme: War
ThumbnailGardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1866) 
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ThumbnailAmerican Civil War (1861-1865) 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
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Internet resources

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Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War ... 
An excellent resource by Cornell University Library on an important record of the American Civil War. 
The Golden Age of Western Photography - Section One: 1858 -1875 ... 
Created by the Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, USA. 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.61 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.221 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Alexander Gardner.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.458 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.148-149 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.248 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.87, 94 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Alexander Gardner are included in this classic history.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.26 [Analyzes a single photograph by Alexander Gardner.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Alexander Gardner was represented in 58 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
Library of Congress, Washington, USA 
Approximate number of records: 241 
Note: A single record may contain more than one photograph.
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