The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought on July 1-3, 1863, at a small town in Pennsylvania. The fierce fighting was a major turning point in the American Civil War, with an estimated 50,000 casualties—dead, wounded, and missing Union and Confederate soldiers.
Artists, photographers, and printmakers all documented the battle, using their unique talents to help people then and now understand the conflict. Looking at all three types of visual documentation together raises appreciation for how images tell a story. A set of pictures selected for the Flickr Commons represents:
- The vivid immediacy of drawings by Alfred R. Waud, the newspaper artist who was on the scene for the whole battle.
- A sense of realism in the shots by such photographers as Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan, and the Tyson Brothers, even though they arrived after the battle ended.
- The symbolic roles played by the iconic photographs of a dead sharpshooter and the commemorative prints.
Photography of the battle site has remained popular for 150 years. News photographers covered the 50th anniversary reunion where both Union and Confederate veterans camped at Gettysburg in 1913. And, contemporary photographer Carol M. Highsmith has captured many famous vistas.
Clearly, Gettysburg is a landscape with ongoing meaning. (We’re hoping readers will share their photos of the battlefield with us on Flickr.)
- Look at hundreds of pictures related to the Battle of Gettysburg in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Study the ground-breaking photo history book Gettysburg: A Journey in Time, by William A. Frassanito (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975)
- Read about the newspaper artists in Civil War Sketchbook: Drawings from the Battlefront, by Harry Katz (NY: W.W. Norton, 2012) and The Image of War: The Pictorial Reporting of the American Civil War, by W. Fletcher Thompson, Jr. (NY: Thomas Yoseloff, 1959)
- Visit The Civil War in America, a Library of Congress exhibition.
- Orient yourself to the sequence of events with The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War by Margaret E. Wagner (NY: Little Brown, 2011)