Thursday, October 10, 2013

Photography and the American Civil War

 Oliver H. Willard (American, active 1850s–70s, died 1875), Fatigue, Marching Order, 1866; albumen silver print from glass negative, with applied color; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2010 (2010.38); image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Gibbes Museum of Art invited Pluff Mud Kids to come and view the current exhibition entitled Photography and the American Civil War and we couldn't wait to see it through a child's eye...

This display of photography and artifacts belonging to Civil War soldiers was so much more than what we bargained for. This travelling exhibition has come to the Gibbes from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and has been carefully constructed to give an intimate glimpse into the hearts and souls of the courageous men who braved the battlefield. ( read more here about the Gibbes' own curatorial perspective on the exhibit). It is hard to look at the grim realities of war, and children begin to understand the full measure of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought for our nation. This is a very interactive exhibit for children and adults with viewing boxes, collections of tiny breast-pocket photos, and letters from soldiers etched on the walls of the museum.

Linger with your child and help them process the images that are charged with emotion. You will find yourselves wanting to know who these soldiers really were...

Unknown photographer, [Captain Charles A. and Sergeant John M. Hawkins, Company E, "Tom Cobb Infantry," Thirty-eighth Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry], 1861–62; quarter-plate ambrotype with applied color; David Wynn Vaughan Collection.

There are over 200 photographs in this exhibition, with tintypes like this one and personal leather albums as well as an amazing necklace adorned with tiny photos of soldiers pictured in the case here...

We were at the museum for over an hour and will need to take a second look to really cover everything thoroughly. I recommend this exhibition as a perfect way to learn Civil War history for children in the fourth grade and older.  While visiting the museum we met Susan Fiorentino, a 24 year resident of Charleston and Civil War buff who commented " This exhibition is absolutely fantastic. It really displays the realities of war and the nature of the battlefields. I think this is an important piece of American history for children and schools to take in and helps to explain the differences in the states in our nation." 

Gayford & Speidel (Active Rock Island, Illinois, 1860s), Private Louis Troutman, Company F, 108th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry, January–May 1865; albumen silver print (carte de visite) from glass negative; Thomas Harris Collection; image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

 This is a fantastic tribute that honors those who gave their lives in battle and expertly preserves their memory. Thank you to the Gibbes Museum of Art for sharing this astounding exhibition with Pluff Mud Kids!

Gibbes Museum of Art
Photography of the American Civil War - September 27, 2013 through January 5th, 2014
135 Meeting St. (2 blocks south of the market between Cumberland and Queen Streets)
click here for all the information and admission fees at the Gibbes as well as upcoming tour talks for this exhibition.


  1. I would like to see this monetary collection because I have a little one of my own.

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