Civil War Trust
For Immediate Release: 08/01/12

Civil War Trust and Smithsonian Institution Open Exhibit on Civil War Photography for 150th Anniversary

Civil War Trust joins with Smithsonian Institution and Historyâ„¢ to examine how photography brought home the horror of war for the first time in American history

(Washington, D.C.) – As part of ongoing commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest conflict in American history, the Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, has joined with the Smithsonian Institution to co-curate a new exhibit “Experience Civil War Photography: From the Home Front to the Battlefield.” The exhibit, which is sponsored by History™, opens today in the Smithsonian Castle, where it will run for one year. 

“Advancements in photography made during the Civil War brought the conflict into the homes of Americans in ways never before possible,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “Today, these remarkable images still stir the imagination and help us understand the experiences of those who lived through those tumultuous times. Working with the world-renowned staff at the Smithsonian Institution to help tell these stories has been an incredible honor for our organization.”

Stereoviews, an early form of 3-D photography, daguerreotypes, tintypes and ambrotypes—all emerging types of photography—are highlighted in the exhibit, which features a range of Civil War-era photographic materials from Smithsonian collections. Highlights include an ambrotype portrait of an African American washerwoman, a carte-de-visite album of Civil War generals and an 11-by-4-inch-view camera and equipment. The exhibit provides an in-depth examination of the emergence of battlefield photography and photojournalism.

Multimedia presentations include two short videos. The first, produced by the Center for Civil War Photography for the Civil War Trust, presents the war photos as they were meant to be seen—in 3-D—allowing visitors to step back in time. The second is a History™ channel film on field photography narrated by Roger Daltrey of The Who.

The exhibit also showcases the role that the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1846, itself played in the Civil War, when the Castle served as a home for the Smithsonian Secretary’s family and a place of learning and collecting. The exhibit displays excerpts from the diary from the daughter of Secretary Joseph Henry. Mary Henry recorded the comings and goings of soldiers to the Castle and used its towers to observe advancing soldiers and Washington itself in the days following Lincoln’s assassination. Also featured are Smithsonian employee Solomon Brown (1829-1906) and the lecture hall that hosted a series of abolitionist speakers; it was destroyed by fire in 1865.

“Experience Civil War Photography: From the Home Front to the Battlefront” is a joint exhibition produced by the Smithsonian and the Civil War Trust and is sponsored by History ™; it will run in the Smithsonian Castle until through July 2013. For more information on “Civil War 150,” the Smithsonian’s commemorative programming, visit

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 32,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at, the home of the sesquicentennial.


  • Jim Campi, (202) 367-1861 x7205
  • Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231

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