Featured Document Display: Mathew Brady: A Pioneering Photographer

Thursday, April 21, 2022 - Friday, June 17, 2022
East Rotunda Gallery
Mathew Brady photograph of Abraham Lincoln
Photograph “Abraham Lincoln, President, U.S.,” January 8, 1864. 19th-century War Department albumen print, from Brady negative. (165-A-2536)
National Archives, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs

Renowned photographer of the notable

Credited by many as the father of photojournalism, Mathew Brady is synonymous with the Civil War even though he did not make many of the photographs that bear his name. His ambitious effort to comprehensively document the conflict required Brady to employ a staff of field photographers and make purchases from private individuals. Although Brady was rarely the photographer behind the camera in the field, the historic collection he assembled was the first of its kind and secured his place as one of the most important photographers in U.S. history. 

Before the Civil War, Brady was a nationally renowned photographer with studios in New York City and Washington, DC, that attracted many of the most famous figures of his time. Brady Studio’s public portraits of many of the mid-19th century’s most eminent citizens, like Abraham Lincoln, not only raised Brady’s profile as a photographer but also helped popularize the emerging technology for capturing a person’s likeness. This portrait of President Lincoln was photographed by Brady himself on January 8, 1864. Other photographs of the President by Brady Studios have served as the basis of the Lincoln penny and the five-dollar bill. 

For more resources relating to Mathew Brady, Brady Studios, and Civil War Photographs:

Thursday, April 21, 2022 - Friday, June 17, 2022