4 fascinating examples of Civil War humor
While processing a collection of Civil War scrapbooks, I was surprised to find imagery that reminded me of today's internet memes. A meme is a graphic often encountered on social media, combining an image and a comical phrase that is widely circulated and shared. Examples include success kid celebrating life's small victories and Grumpy Cat being, well, grumpy. The Civil War images I encountered were quick to consume and lightly lampooned current events.
While today's memes and political cartoons spread through posts on Facebook and Twitter, these images spread through the mail. You didn't even have to open your mail to encounter it—the image was right on the envelope in many cases! Writing letters was one of the few ways to stay in touch with family members separated by war and the messages on the envelopes were an easy way to flaunt one's attitudes about the war.
Rebecca Kuske is a reference intern for the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History.