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Daily Picture Show

Civil War Photography

In preparation for President's Day on Feb. 16, The Smithsonian is hosting an education online conference series on Abraham Lincoln today and tomorrow. Explore their site for more information on our 16th President. All images courtesy The Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

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Photography was only about 20 years old at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. At that time, there was a type of photograph called a carte de visite, or cdv. It was typically a portrait photograph made with a glass wet-plate negative, allowing unlimited copies and prints.

This collection provided by the Smithsonian Institution is an example of a cdv photo album. It was assembled in the U.S. for a Swiss citizen shortly after the Civil War. Today, the album represents the international interest in the American Civil War that evidently favored the Union Army. It provides an interesting selection of players and is a visual springboard for studying the Civil War.

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