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The Myriopticon, A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion

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This post is coauthored by Nathan Dorn, rare book curator, and Robert Brammer, senior legal information specialist.

The Myriopticon, A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion. Photo by Robert Brammer
This is a photo of the cover art.  Photo by Robert Brammer.

Our latest video comes to you from the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room of the Library of Congress. To help us commemorate the Appomattox Campaign that took place 152 years ago and concluded on April 9, 1865 with Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant, this video features a myriopticon that depicts various scenes from the Civil War. Titled “A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion,” the myriopticon was manufactured by Milton Bradley around 1865. The myriopticon was an educational device targeted at prepubescent boys that consists of a box containing a painted scroll and two scroll tubes. A key is inserted through the box and into the scroll tube to rotate the scroll. Rotating the scroll passes assorted scenes from the war across the frame, including the Battle of Fort Sumter, African American families posing next to a covered wagon, and the evacuation of Richmond.  The myriopticon is just one item from the Library’s Alfred Whital Stern collection, a collection of items related to President Abraham Lincoln.

Alfred Whital Stern (1881-1960) was an important American collector of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia active in the 20th century.  After some thirty years of collecting, he gave his Lincoln artifacts to the Library of Congress in 1953. Along with these were included a body of publications and other items relating to the important issues of Lincoln’s times, including slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This marvelous device was among them.

If you would like to explore some more interesting artifacts from the Civil War, be sure to visit our Prints and Photographs Division’s Collection of Photographs from the Civil War.  And if you would like to read more about the Civil War from the perspective of Congress, visit Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation and click on the “debates of Congress.”

In this photo, you can see the key that is used to turn the myriopticon's scrolls. Photo by Robert Brammer
In this photo, you can see (above at left) the key that is used to turn the Myriopticon’s scrolls. Photo by Robert Brammer.

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