Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War. Volume 2


Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War was published in 1866. Each of the two albums contains fifty photographs of different scenes of the Civil War and is accompanied by text written by Gardner. These are rare books, each produced by hand. Just a few sets were sold as they were very costly to produce and, after the Civil War, many Americans were looking forward, trying to move on from the death and destruction of the war.

Gardner was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1821. Before coming to America in 1856, he was trained as a jeweler and a chemist, but was more interested in the fairly new invention of photography. After immigrating to New York, he worked for Mathew Brady in his photographic studios in New York and Washington, DC. In 1862, after disagreeing with Brady over photographers' rights to receive credit for their pictures, he left his studio and started his own business in Washington, DC, where his most famous subject was Abraham Lincoln. Gardner took not only the last posed photograph of Lincoln in February 1865, but also photographs of his funeral and the hanging of the conspirators in his assassination. He also took pictures of other government figures such as Supreme Court Justices and visiting delegates.

During the Civil War, Gardner became a photographer for the Army of the Potomac, taking pictures of not only non-battle scenes, such as military camps, but also the aftermath of battles that had just taken place. He later combined his photographs of the war with those of his staff photographers and published the two-volume book Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, for which he became most famous. Gardner died in 1882 in Washington, DC.

Date Made: 1866

Maker: Gardner, Alexander

Location: Currently not on view

Related Event: Civil War


See more items in: Work and Industry: Photographic History, Gardner's Sketchbook, National Treasures exhibit, Photography, Art


Exhibition Location:

Related Web Publication:

Related Publication: Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History, National Museum of American History. Treasures of American History online exhibition

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1986.0711.0283Accession Number: 1986.0711Catalog Number: 1986.0711.0283

Object Name: photographs, album

Physical Description: paper (overall material)


Record Id: nmah_895799

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.