Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.
Vintage photos of:
From 1861, a second look at these Northern infantry campers -- and our first glimpse of their puppy. "District of Columbia. Tent life of the 31st (later, 82nd) Pennsylvania Infantry at Queen's Farm, vicinity of Fort Slocum." View full size. Wet-plate glass negative, left half of stereo pair, photographer unknown. This has a lot in common with the pictures Dorothea Lange would be taking 75 years later of Dust Bowl migrants in the agricultural tent camps of California.
Library of Congress annotation: Princess Agnes Salm-Salm, wife of Prince Felix of Prussia, who served with the Union Army, observed in January 1862 that the winter camp of the Army of the Potomac was "teeming with women." Some wives insisted on staying with their husbands, which may have been the case with this woman, judging by her housewifely pose alongside a soldier, three young children, and a puppy. In addition to taking care of her own family, she may have worked as a camp laundress or nurse. Some women who lacked the marital voucher of respectability were presumed to be prostitutes and were periodically ordered out of camp. Only gradually during the four years of the war, and in the face of unspeakable suffering, were women grudgingly accepted by military officials and the general public in the new public role of nurse.
Washington, D.C., 1925. "Princess Bibesco of Rumania." Priscilla Bibesco (1920-2004) led an interesting and peripatetic life. Marcel Proust and Queen Alexandra were her godparents; her father was the Romanian ambassador to Washington. When World War 2 began, she hitchhiked to Beirut to become a spy; after the Communists took over in Eastern Europe, she made her home in Paris. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
May 20, 1862. "The Peninsula, Virginia. The staff of Gen. Fitz-John Porter; Lts. William G. Jones and George A. Custer reclining." Photographs from the main Eastern theater of war: the Peninsular Campaign, May-August 1862. Wet plate glass negative, half of stereograph pair, by James F. Gibson. View full size.