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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > American Civil War (1861-1865)

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American Civil War

Whilst the American Civil War was not the first conflict to be photographed it came at a time that was interesting photographically. The Daguerreotype was in decline as was the ambrotype but the albumen print and the poor mans photograph, the tintype, were gaining popularity. This meant that whilst the better photographers could use albumen prints to capture the generals, camps and battlegrounds the lower cost of carte de visites and the even cheaper tintypes taken by itinerant photographers made photography within reach of all. The difference between the American Civil War and the wars that had gone before was the way in which the common soldier was recorded as a memento that could be sent home rather than a semi-official photograph of the common soldier taken for portfolios out of the reach of the subject of the photograph.
There were vast numbers of photographs taken of the war and there are innumerable publications that show them including multi-volume illustrated histories. A single exhibition can not do justice to this topic and so this exhibition is divided into themes to highlight specific issues.
The photographers
Communications The telegraph and the press.
The common soldier This includes selections from the Liljenquist Family collection donated to LOC in 2010.
The officers and politicians
Camp life
The weapons of war
The battlefields
The visual recordThis includes the commercial photographs and albums by Gardner, Brady and Barnard.
Moving PicturesWithin the sprawling and controversial motion picture The Birth of a Nation (1915) part of the story resolves around a cased photograph.



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