Archives for : history

Research Rabbit Hole: Glass Negative Greenhouses

A new episode of Research Rabbit Hole, our Facebook Live show, premiered Monday evening, March 9, at 9 p.m. ET.

Season 1, Episode 5, examines a persistent story about Civil War photographers who, long after the end of hostilities, sold glass plate negatives of battlefields, famous generals and Abraham Lincoln as scrap glass later used in greenhouses. They gradually faded away—ironically destroyed by the very sunlight responsible for image creation. The story has been told by many, including Ken Burns. Did photographer’s really sell their negatives?

The full season is available on YouTube.

New episodes of Research Rabbit Hole will be released every two weeks on our Facebook page. The host, Ronald S. Coddington, is Editor and Publisher of Military Images.

The Official Launch of Civil War Photo Sleuth

Kurt Luther, pictured here, in the moment he launched our Civil War Photo Sleuth software on August 1 in the Innovation Lab at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Kurt (head of CWPS), Ron Coddington (editor of Military Images magazine), and the rest of the team introduced guests throughout the day to the website to learn how to identify unknown Civil War photos, find photos of Civil War ancestors, and add identified photos to our reference database.

Attendees included Garry Adelman of the Civil War Trust and the Center for Civil War Photography, Melissa Winn of Civil War Times, Karen Chittenden from the Library of Congress and Tom Liljenquist, whose collection is part of the Library of Congress.

Images and live video of the event were carried on Facebook.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. CWPS is a historic moment for anyone interested in Civil War soldier and sailor photography.

MI on Medium

mi-mediumVisit Military Images on Medium and read the first two installments of Photo Sleuth by Kurt Luther:

Medium is, according to its founders, “A beautiful space for reading and writing — and little else. The words are central. They can be accompanied by images to help illustrate your point. But there are no gratuitous sidebars, plug-ins, or widgets.”

MI is utilizing Medium’s space for words—and images! Check it out:

Ministering Angels


Veteran and registered nurse Chris Foard first became interested in the Civil War about 28 years ago, when he started his search for artifacts related to the men and women who cared for sick, wounded and dying soldiers. “A part of collecting I find most enjoyable is locating photographs of nurses then learning about the person behind the image,” Foard notes. “What still drives me to collect these rare images is putting a face with a name and learning more about their struggles, hardships, obstacles and how they coped.”

Representative examples of his collection are featured in the Spring 2015 issue of Military Images.

Go to the finding aid for this issue.
Purchase the digital edition.
Subscribe to the print and/or digital edition.

USCT Album Donated to Smithsonian


An album of portraits of men from the 25th U.S. Colored Infantry has been donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The photos were published for the first time in the Winter 2014 issue of Military Images magazine.

The album was donated to the museum by a descendant of Capt. William A. Prickitt. The descendant currently remains anonymous. Prickitt started his military service in the 14th New Jersey Infantry, and became the original commander of Company G of the 25th when it was organized in Philadelphia in early 1864. The album contains 18 gem-sized photographs, almost all tintypes. Someone, perhaps Prickitt, carefully wrote the names of 17 of the 18 men on the mat below each image.

The soldiers hailed mainly from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One of the men, George H. Mitchell, was a slave in Delaware. His master, Caleb Layton, enlisted him in the Union army. Layton received the $300 bounty, a Mitchell received his freedom when his term of enlistment ended.

The album was brought to the attention of Military Images by Shayne Davidson, an artist and genealogist who discovered the photographs and created a series of drawings exhibited at ArtPrize 2013 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Her “Civil War Soldier” drawings were recognized in the top 25 of more than 1,500 entries.

According to a family story supported by military service records, Capt. Prickitt fell deathly ill during his service in the regiment, and noted that some of the men in his company nursed him beck to health. The men pictured in the album may have been the same soldiers that Prickitt credited with saving his life.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is scheduled to open in 2015. The album is planned to be part of two inaugural exhibits.

Winter 2014 Cover is Featured on New Card

The design of a new promotional card that will be distributed at the Low Country Civil War Show and the DC Photo Show early next year went to the printer yesterday. I am very pleased with the design (front and back shown here). Thanks to Anne who pushed me to edit the text. (The first version was much wordier!) And also to David Wynn Vaughan for contributing the wonderful image of the Confederate officer on the front of the card. The federal cavalrymen on the back of the card is part of my collection.