The Graduate Center - City University of New York


The historical record of the American Civil War includes a vast amount of visual material—photographs, illustrated news periodicals, comic publications, individually-published prints, almanacs, political cartoons, illustrated envelopes, trade cards, greeting cards, sheet music covers, money, and more. The era’s visual media heralded an unprecedented change in the production and availability of pictorial media in everyday life and an innovation in the documentation of warfare. In the last decade, a remarkable amount of these materials, previously confined to libraries, historical societies, and museums, has become available on the Web, and in the last generation drawn the attention of humanities scholars.

In July 2012 the American Social History Project held a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on The Visual Culture of the Civil War. For two weeks, thirty college and university teachers from across the United States explored the array of visual media that recorded and disseminated information about the war and the ways these old and new forms of visual representation and communication shaped Americans’ understanding on both sides of the conflict. This website features presentations by historians, art historians, and archivists who discussed their research with institute participants. Each presentation is accompanied by a gallery of archival images; a set of primary documents that illuminates aspects of the subject; and a bibliography of books, articles, and online resources for further investigation.

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Visual Culture of the Civil War website:
Writing/editing: Pennee Bender, Joshua Brown, Donna Thompson Ray

Audio/video production: Pennee Bender, Isa Vasquez
Programming: Marco Battistella, Aaron Knoll
Design: Andrea Ades Vasquez, Joshua Brown
Permissions: Angelo Coclanis

Visual Culture of the Civil War NEH Summer Institute (July 2012):
Project Director: Donna Thompson Ray
Core Faculty: Joshua Brown, Sarah Burns, Gregory Downs, David Jaffee
Additional Faculty: Jeanie Attie, Georgia Barnhill, Alice Fahs, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Harold Holzer, Barbara Krauthamer, Anthony Lee, Bruce Levine,
Louis Masur, Cynthia Mills, Richard Samuel West, Deborah Willis, Peter Wood
Administration and technical support: Pennee Bender, Isa Vasquez
Assistance: Adam Dikker, Sean Griffin
NEH Scholars: Nicholas Aieta, Brie Arnold, Christine Bell, Sarah Blackwood, Paulla Ebron, Edda Fields-Black, Andrea Foroughi, Aston Gonzalez, Hillary Green,
Lance Greene, Joshua Guthman, Cheryl Hicks, Catherine Jones, David Kamm, Heidi Knoblauch, Suzanne Lynch, Sarah Luria, Maura Lyons, Gerard McGowan,
Mary Niall Mitchell, Linda Noel, Susan Opotow, Sarah Picard, Angela Prattas, Akela Reason, Julia Rosenbaum, Robert Sandow, Susan Scheckel, Daisy Olice-
William, Fay Yarbrough

Graphic: Frank Leslie’s Budget of Fun, November 18, 1865, 13.