Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Civil War images posted to Flickr

I'm posting all the Civil War pictures from the Contributed Photograph collection to Flickr, in numerical order, unless we've already put them online there in the past. However we're missing large parts of the collection for various reasons, so if there's a gap between CP 543 and CP 572, it's because we no longer have the intervening 29 photographs.

Most of these photographs have never been seen by the general public. I think the level of interest shown in the largely anonymous photographs recently donated to the Library of Congress shows that there is an interest in seeing the people that fought 150 years ago.

Some of the pictures are disturbing due to either violence or exposed genitalia, and I’ve thought twice about posting them. The Flickr site is open to anyone and photographs of genitals are not something everyone wants to see. However, the first hernia picture we have was by Dr. Reed Bontecou, one of the more famous Civil War medical photographers (or it was commissioned by him). Additionally, due to the draft and volunteerism, not everyone who fought in the Civil War was young and healthy, and problems like hernias resulted, but were less easily treated surgically than they are now. Finally, as we get a little farther along in the series of Civil War pictures, there will be many gruesome physical injuries with exposed viscera, and they should be just as troublesome to modern viewers. When I get done with these pictures, I’ll work through the 400 Surgical Photographs that the museum published between 1862 and 1881.


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