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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Wall: 1865

The Wall: 1865

"St. John's Church and graveyard from street. Main eastern theater of war, fallen Richmond, April-June 1865." Wet plate glass negative. View full size.

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I suspect

that these are just children who were interested in the novel spectacle of the photographer at work, not something they would have seen every day. I'll bet the photographer said "How about getting your picture taken?"

The boys holding "books" are most likely actually newsboys holding broadsheets. Children didn't use notebooks. They would have used slates, if, indeed they were at school at all. Judging from the state of the clothing, they would hardly have had schoolbooks of their own. Very few schools would have had much beyond a primer (if that) and most of then would have been shared between students and God help the child that dirtied or damaged one.


This picture raises more questions than it answers. Are we looking at a group of students from a school set up by the North? (Some of the children seem to have books but not all)If so, what is the role of the two men--one of whom is African-American? Is it just a group of random children? Why are most of the young boys dressed in military-style uniforms?

This is a very ambiguous photo. I wish the caption had more information.

Does anyone have any theories?


I am a Civil War aficionado but I can't figure out what this particular shot is just seems odd the photographer would line up a row of children against a wall for a single orphanage perhaps? Thoughts?

Similar present-day view

This is from North 24th Street.

Built in 1741, St. John's Episcopal Church was the site of Patrick Henry's famous quote in his closing address to the Second Virginia Convention, "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

One shoeless girl

In this photo which seems exclusively for males only, one wonders how the little lady on the extreme left was able to be included in the picture.

I wonder

if there is a covered casket(s) in the back of that wagon; and WHAT is propped up against that empty bottle on the ground?

[The wagon is the photographer's; the bottle would be for chemicals related to his work; the thing is a plate holder. -Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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