- View All
- About this Collection
- Civil War Negatives: Arrangement and Access
- Background and Scope of the Collection
- Bibliographies of Selected Sources
- Mathew B. Brady - Biographical Note
- Taking Photographs During the Civil War
- Digitizing the Negatives
- Microfilm Edition
- Solving a Civil War Photograph Mystery
- Related Resources
- Timeline of the Civil War
- Rights And Restrictions
All images are digitized | All jpegs/tiffs display outside Library of Congress | View All
Related Resources at the Library of Congress
Many rich resources relating to the Civil War exist in a variety of formats and locations at the Library of Congress. Selected holdings of the Prints and Photographs Division are highlighted below, as well as some of the resources (particularly online offerings) of other Library of Congress Divisions. Other institutions with strong Civil War holdings are also mentioned.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs
101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, DC
Many of the items in the groups discussed below have been digitized, and more are being added. To check for online images and individual descriptions from each group, select the "check for online items" link that follows the summary.
Captain Andrew. J. Russell, of the 141st New York Infantry, was the first U.S. Army photographer. He worked under the direction of General Herman Haupt. General Haupt worked as chief engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad before he was appointed to the post of chief of construction and transportation for the United States Military Railroad during the Civil War. His troops repaired war-damaged railroad lines quickly, in order to facilitate the movement of soldiers and supplies.
Russell’s photographs document railroad maintenance and construction in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Other views include military facilities in and around Washington, D.C., Maryland, and in Virginia, from Alexandria to Richmond and Petersburg.
Albumen and salted paper prints documenting the work of the United States Military Construction Corps between 1861 and 1865 are available in the LOTs (groups) described below.
82 salted paper prints showing military construction and transportation in Northern Virginia and other locations, attributed to Andrew J. Russell. The photographs document some of Gen. Haupt’s unusual designs for troop and supply conveyances and show laborers, including African American workers. [View group description | Check for online items]
64 large-format albumen photographs made by Captain Andrew J. Russell for the U.S. Military Railroad Construction Corps., 1861-1865. Photographs are on their original mounts. Includes views related to the Civil War and images of Washington, D.C.; Alexandria, Virginia; and the surrounding area. Civil War views include troops near Fredericksburg and Falmouth, Virginia; the headquarters of Generals Meade and Beauregard; a telegraph station at Manassas; and scenes along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. [View group description] | Check for online items]
146 albumen silver prints and 1 salted paper print by Andrew J. Russell made under the direction of Herman Haupt. Some images are variants of those found in LOT 4336. Images were mounted by the Library of Congress many years ago. Some of the images are accompanied by Gen. Haupt's handwritten text.
- Rebel Caisson destroyed by Federal shells at Fredericksburg, 1863
- railroad mortar at Petersburg, 1864
- Richmond in ruins, 1865
- Potomac Creek Bridge, 1863
- sailors on the Russian Frigate "Osliaba.
Other Groups of Photographs (LOTs)
44 albumen silver prints by Haas & Peale in an album entitled "Siege of Charleston Illustrated: Views on Morris Island."
The lot also contains 23 mounted albumen silver prints that duplicate images from the album and a complete set of copy prints made by the Library. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
12 cartes de visite, including a group portrait of General Dodge's staff and headquarters, views relating to the execution of a rebel spy, and studio portraits of military personnel. Photographs by George Armstead and Armstead & White of Corinth, Mississippi. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
17 albumen cartes de visite from the series Views of the Rebel Capital and Its Environs, copyright by Levy & Cohen. Includes views of the ruins of Petersburg Bridge, Galego Flour Mills, and the Arsenal; residence of General Lee; and Libby Prison. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
General John White Geary's carte de viste album. Geary served as a general in the Civil War, commanding troops at Gettysburg. His album includes numerous portraits of military personnel who served during the Civil War including Nathaniel Banks, Henry A. Barnum, Jefferson Davis, Joseph Hooker, and a group portrait of General Geary and his staff at Harper's Ferry. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
Adolph G. Metzner's carte de visite photograph album. The album contains 78 portraits, primarily members of the 32nd Indiana Infantry Regiment. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
47 Civil War stereographs of Charleston, Fort Sumter, and Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, from the papers of Orlando M. Poe. Photographed by George N. Barnard. Photographs show ruins and surviving structures in sections of Charleston; houses along the Battery; street views, one taken at Vendue Range another at Meeting Street; churches, including Catholic Cathedral and Circular Congregational Church; cemeteries; ruins of a railway depot. Also includes exterior and interior views of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie; one view of Fort Beauregard (taken from Fort Moultrie) and one of Fort Johnson. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
34 Civil War stereographs of Atlanta, Georgia, and Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, from the papers of Orlando M. Poe. Attributed to George N. Barnard. Includes views of Lookout Mountain; Umbrella Rock and Pulpit Rock; Rock Creek Falls; one view of Orlando Poe and O.E. Babcock at Ft. Sanders, Knoxville, Tenn. Views of Atlanta include Union and Confederate fortifications and entrenchments; also some ruins of buildings; railroad facilities; the site where General McPherson was killed; two views of Fort McAllister. Also includes one photograph of a grove of oak trees at Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga. [View group description] | [Check for online items]
Brady Handy Collection
The Brady Handy Collection includes portrait photographs of individuals prominent during the Civil War period, sometimes taken after the Civil War. Military officers are sometimes depicted in uniform and sometimes in civilian clothes. The original glass plate negatives in the collection have been digitized.
Books, serials and published, bound portfolios assigned to the Prints and Photographs Division because they contain original photographs, engravings, and other kinds of graphic materials. Among those relating to the Civil War are:
Gardner, Alexander. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War. Washington: Philp and Solomons, 1866.
The 100 photographs contained in Gardner's Sketch Book are presented chronologically showing the major sites of conflict in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Every photograph is accompanied by a lengthy caption. The photographers responsible for exposing the negatives as well as the people who worked in the darkroom to make the prints are credited. Three copies of this two-volume set are in the collection of the Prints & Photographs Division; the prints are identical with the exception of a few variants.
Call number: E468.7 G19 P&P Case; E468.7 G2 [P&P Case Y] [View description] | [Check for online items]
Barnard, George N. Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign. NY: Press of Wynkopp & Hallenbeck, 1866.
Barnard's 61 photographs of Army operations in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, document important places, notable battlefields, and military works, such as bridges and fortifications along the route of Sherman's campaign to capture Atlanta, the railhead of the Confederacy.
Call number: E476.7.B24 [P&P Case Z][View description] | [Check for online items]
Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs
Almost 350 images showing African Americans and related military and social history. The Civil War era is the primary time period covered, with scattered examples through 1945. [More information] | [View the collection]
Liljenquist Family Collection
PH Filing Series
94 photographs by George N. Barnard, including an unbound set of photographs from his album of Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign, and 9 panoramas documenting Atlanta, Georgia, before the fire and Civil War forts and bridges in Tennessee, 1864. [Check for online items]
The PH series also includes additional Civil War photographs by various photographers. [Search the PH filing series]View group description]
- Battle scenes, etc. (LOT 10618-5)
14 nineteenth-century tobacco labels depicting battle scenes, zouaves, and Union soldiers saluting the flag. [Check for online items]
- Leaders LOT 10618-6
11 nineteenth-century tobacco labels depicting Civil War generals, including Anderson, Corcoran, Farragut, Grant, Joseph E. Johnson [i.e., Johnston], McClellan, Sherman, and Stanley [Check for online items]
Civil War Drawing Collection
The Civil War Drawing Collection contains more than 2,000 sketches by the “Special Artists” who drew for the nation's illustrated newspapers. Records for all the drawings, many accompanied by digital images, are available online in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog as part of the Drawings (Documentary) group.
- Most of the drawings were produced by Northern artists and reflect their sympathy for the Union cause, although a few portray Confederate subjects and are among the finest surviving images we have of Southern troops and their leaders.
- These on-site sketches provide a comprehensive visual record of military life in the Union army, from the entrance of volunteer recruits into Washington in spring 1861 to the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Courthouse four years later.
- battles and battlefields
- camp fires and camp followers
- ironclads and steamships
- street scenes and landscapes
- politicians and ordinary citizens
- military hardware and military men.
- Almost three-quarters of the Library's Civil War sketches were drawn by Alfred Waud. Other artists include his brother William Waud, Edwin Forbes, Arthur Lumley and Winslow Homer.
Popular Graphic Arts
The Popular Graphic Arts Collection comprises prints and illustrated broadsides of historical, graphic and/or documentary importance. Records for a large proportion of the collection are available in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (see Popular Graphic Arts Collection); many are accompanied by digital images.
- It includes hundreds of prints with Civil War subjects, including battle scenes, camp life, and portraits.
- Notable publishers of Civil War prints include the firm of Kurz & Allison and Currier & Ives.
Library of Congress,
Geography & Map Division (G&M)
101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, DC
The Civil War Maps collection contains approximately 2,240 Civil War maps and charts and 76 atlases and sketchbooks. They depict battles, troop positions and movements, engagements, and fortifications. Also included are reconnaissance maps, sketch maps, coastal charts, and theater of war maps. The collection contains printed, photoreproduced, annotated, and hand-drawn maps made between 1861 and 1865, and also maps made later to illustrate or explain specific events, movements, and battles of the war. The vast majority of the maps were prepared by Federal forces or by commercial firms in the North, but there are also a substantial number by Confederate military authorities and a few by Southern publishers. A portion of the collection may be viewed is available online as Civil War Maps.
The Manuscript Division holds more than one thousand collections relating to the Civil War, including the papers of Gen. George B. McClellan. Among their relevant online offerings are:
during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft,
Presents three manuscript volumes, totaling 1,240 digital images, that document daily life in Washington, D. C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U. S. Patent Office. The diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, on April 14, 1865. Transcriptions for all three volumes have been made by Library of Congress staff and are available online along with the digital images.
James Wadsworth Family Papers - Civil War photograph album,
John Hay, a personal secretary to President Abraham Lincoln who later had a successful diplomatic and political career of his own, is thought to have assembled the cartes de visites in this album. Many of the two hundred individuals represented in Hay's album, including numerous army and navy officers, politicians, and cultural figures, were undoubtedly visitors to the Lincoln White House. Others, such as Confederate president Jefferson Davis and generals Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet, were unlikely to have called at the Executive Mansion. The album pages and the individual cartes de visite they contain are available as digital images as part of the Manuscript Division's Words and Deeds in American History.
Gettysburg Address Drafts
Of the five known manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address, the Library of Congress has two.
Among the division's online offerings is Band Music from the Civil War Era, which makes available examples of a brilliant style of brass band music that flourished in the 1850s in the United States and remained popular through the nineteenth century. Bands of this kind served in the armies of both the North and the South during the Civil War. This online collection includes both printed and manuscript music (mostly in the form of "part books" for individual instruments) selected from the collections of the Music Division of the Library of Congress and the Walter Dignam Collection of the Manchester Historic Association (Manchester, New Hampshire). The collection features over 700 musical compositions, as well as 8 full-score modern editions and 19 recorded examples of brass band music in performance.
The Main Reading Room provides general reference assistance, particularly with the Library of Congress's book and periodical collections. Among their online reference aids is U.S. Civil War Regimental Histories in the Library of Congress.
National Archives and Records Administration
Still Picture unit
The National Archives, which is the repository for official government records, has extensive Civil War photograph holdings, some of which overlap with those of the Library of Congress.
Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (Record Group 111) - In 1940 the National Archives acquired several thousand glass plate negatives by Mathew Brady and his associates. These negatives were originally purchased by the War Department from the Brady studio. The collection includes portraits of well-known Union and Confederate commanders of the war, President Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet officers, congressmen and senators, and other noted personalities of the time. In addition, the collection includes Union and Confederate naval vessels, railroads, supply dumps, hospitals, views of daily life in camp, and troops on the move.
Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (Record Group 165) -- Includes photographs from Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War and images by Andrew J. Russell, Sam A. Cooley, and George N. Barnard.
The Smithsonian Institution houses an extraordinary array of Civil War artifacts in its museums and archives. They range in interest from personal effects—Abraham Lincoln's black beaver top hat—to examples of uniforms and weapons, some of which were manufactured in the tens of thousands. Topics included in their Web site are:
- Slavery & Abolition
- Abraham Lincoln
- First Blood
- Life & Culture
- Winslow Homer.
New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society's online Civil War resources include Civil War Treasures--materials drawn from twelve archival collections that are presented as part of the Library of Congress American Memory/Ameritech offerings. The online materials include:
- 304 posters, such as recruiting posters for New York City regiments of volunteers
- 731 stereographic views, including views documenting the mustering of soldiers and of popular support for the Union in New York City
- photography showing the war's impact, both in the north and south
- 178 drawings; writings by ordinary soldiers on both sides of the conflict
- the first and only issue of The Prison Times handwritten by Confederate prisoners in Fort Delaware
- 32 letters written by Sarah Blunt, a nurse in hospitals at Point Lookout, Maryland and Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
- 3 letters by Walt Whitman; and almost 500 envelopes with printed or embossed decoration related to Civil War events and personalities.
U.S. Army Military History Institute
The U. S. Army Military History Institute has approximately 85,000 photographs related to the Civil War. 40,000 of these images were received as a gift in 1973 from the Massachusetts Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS–MASS). The rest of the collection includes Civil War related photographs copied by the Institute from small historical societies and private individuals, including many portraits. The Institute has about 450 original and copy glass plate negatives, many of which were included in Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War and credited there to "Review of Reviews Co." Approximately 26,000 Civil War photographs can be searched via their database <http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/PhotoDB.html> (These records do not include digital images.)
The Museum of the Confederacy
The Museum has a large collection of copies of Civil War photographs found in Library of Congress and National Archives holdings. It also holds more than 310 "cased image" photographs of Confederate soldiers and Southern civilians.