See Images By America's First War Photographer

Who was the father of American photojournalism? Here's a look at the Civil War work of Mathew Brady.

Confederate prisoners awaiting transportation, Belle Plain, Va, 1865
Confederate prisoners awaiting transportation, Belle Plain, Va, 1865. (Image: Picryl)

Despite the limits of early picture-taking technology, in the 1840s photography had become a popular art form and a profitable business.


Back then, portrait photography was tedious; it required a very brightly lit scene, and a patient model that was able to sit still under that scorching light (which, disturbingly, is the very same reason post-mortem photography was so popular in the Victorian era).

In the United States in the 19th century, people preferred the living, and the desire to preserve an image of a loved one captivated the masses. A New York photographer, Mathew Brady, caught onto that need and in 1856 he published an ad in The New York Daily Tribune that stated: “You cannot tell how soon it may be too late”, and suggested people commission photographic portraits of their loved ones while it was still possible. With the start of Civil War in 1861, it became more relevant than ever. Thousands of soldiers and their families were ready to pay about one dollar for a tintype photograph (nowadays that amount is equal to nearly $30). Brady even had a special offer for celebrities: he did not charge a fee for portraits of politicians, generals, and actors – but he did use them as marketing tools to bolster his profile and build his brand.

As the country's political climate boiled, Brady decided he had to document the Civil War itself. Due to the technological restrictions of his time, he could make photographs only before and after a battle, but thanks to his efforts, historians have gleaned a lot of information about the Civil War from those pictures. Brady was the father of American war photography and the first to captured war scenes right in the army camps.

As the war progressed and his ambitions grew, he took on a few employees and for each of them he bought a mobile darkroom. All his photos, as well as all the works of his employees, were credited “by Brady.” This photography team followed the armies through victory and defeat and recorded an impressive and harrowing photographic history of the American Civil War.

To see the full collection of Mathew Brady's photographs, which are now in the public domain, head to Picryl.


"Atlanta" (Confederate Ram) on James River after capture, 1865


Camp of 28th Wisconsin, 1865


Camp scene, ladies in camp, 1860


General Porter, plus others, 1865


View from Lookout Mountain, Tenn, 1865

Iron Age discoveries uncovered outside London, including a ‘murder’ victim

A man's skeleton, found facedown with his hands bound, was unearthed near an ancient ceremonial circle during a high speed rail excavation project.

Photo Credit: HS2
Culture & Religion
  • A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during an excavation outside of London.
  • The discovery was made during a high speed rail project that has been a bonanza for archaeology, as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route.
  • An ornate grave of a high status individual from the Roman period and an ancient ceremonial circle were also discovered during the excavations.
Keep reading Show less

Skepticism: Why critical thinking makes you smarter

Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.

Videos
  • It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
  • Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
  • As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.
Keep reading Show less

New study suggests placebo might be as powerful as psychedelics

New study suggests the placebo effect can be as powerful as microdosing LSD.

Credit: agsandrew / Adobe Stock
Mind & Brain
  • New research from Imperial College London investigated the psychological effects of microdosing LSD in 191 volunteers.
  • While microdosers experienced beneficial mental health effects, the placebo group performed statistically similar to those who took LSD.
  • Researchers believe the expectation of a trip could produce some of the same sensations as actually ingesting psychedelics.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast