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Public and Private Photography During the Civil War

Like photography today, photography during the Civil War had many functions, from private to public. The session will examine a variety of Civil War-related photography from the Photographic History Collection with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of how photography was incorporated into everyday lives, and how we value those photographs today as historical objects. Objects will include the 1860 Rutgers college yearbook that belonged to Texan George McNeel; Alexander Gardner’s Sketchbook of the War; glass-plate negatives by Brady’s studio of Lincoln’s Cabinet; the portrait of a Union washerwoman; and Lincoln portraits incorporated into cartes-de-visite albums.


Shannon Thomas Perich
Associate Curator,
National Museum of American History

Shannon Thomas Perich is an Associate Curator in the Photographic History Collection at the National Museum of American History. She is the author of The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family, Photographs by Richard Avedon. Her research interests span the whole of the history of photography, from daguerreotype to digital. Her current project is on the work of Dr. Dain Tasker’s X-rays of flowers from the 1930s to the 1950s.