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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > American Civil War (1861-1865: Robin Stanford Civil War Photography Collection

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American Civil War
(1861-1865
Robin Stanford Civil War Photography Collection
 
  

The Robin Stanford Civil War Photography Collection
DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
 
Over the course of forty years of collecting, Robin Stanford has amassed an exceptional group of Civil War photographs. The most striking aspect of her collection is not only the sheer quantity of images, mostly stereographs, but the number of rare views by almost unknown photographers and in locations not much documented.
 
Many iconic Civil War photographs, for example, Alexander Gardner’s pictures of the dead at Gettysburg, have often been reproduced and Robin Stanford’s collection has dozens of those important images. However, most Civil War battles went unrecorded, and the majority of photographs were taken in Virginia, the Charleston area, and at Antietam and Gettysburg. Outside those regions, few wartime photographs exist. Many of these rare images are represented in the Stanford collection. A particular strength in this collection is Southern views by local photographers – those that illustrate prewar plantation life. Views by northern photographers who went into occupied areas of the South with Union troops are another strength. Robin Stanford’s purposeful collecting has created an extraordinary documentary record, as vivid today as it was 150 years ago.
 
The Civil War defined and galvanized who we are as a nation. Virtually every American sustained the collective trauma of loss, having a relative or acquaintance who was wounded, dead, or missing. The Civil War lasted four grueling years, from April 1861 to April 1865, and it was the most devastating conflict in U.S. history, killing more Americans than all other wars combined. At the war’s end, damage to property and land was overwhelming, and, in much of the South, it took more than 50 years to recover. The South’s economy and society were radically altered. A few sobering facts stand out regarding the Civil War. The statistics are staggering for human loss with more than 750,000 men killed and almost 500,000 wounded from a population of 31 million Americans. One in ten men of age to serve died as a result of the war. For most Civil War soldiers, death did not come from wounds in battle, however, but from disease in camp. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War has encouraged people today to look to the past to find an explanation for the conflict, to consider the life of a relative, or to review fighting in a specific area. The four-year sesquicentennial and anniversaries of various historic events have brought a new wave of interest in the war to the American public.
 
Questions regarding the Stanford Civil War Photography Collection, contact:
 
Anne E. Peterson
Curator of Photographs
DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
PO Box 750396
Dallas, TX 75275-0396
 
214-768-2661
 
apeterso@smu.edu
 
DeGolyer website: http://smu.edu/cul/degolyer/
 
Online images: http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/all/cul/
Flickr images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smu_cul_digitalcollections/ 
  

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