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  • Griffin Museum of Photography: CW exhibit

    http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ar...rticleid=62663

    Opening America's eyes: Historic photos of Civil War discovered in Medford attic
    By Chris Bergeron / News Staff Writer
    Thursday, March 11, 2004

    WINCHESTER -- Young men pose with swords and pistols. Grave faces stare from battered earthworks. Confederate dead sprawl across an empty meadow.

    Abraham Lincoln looks into the camera with fathomless sorrow.

    Like a family album discovered in an old trunk, 92 rare photographs recall the horrors and humanity of the Civil War in a powerful exhibit at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester.

    Opening today, "Landscapes of the Civil War," features eight never-before-shown images from some of the conflict's greatest photographers, including Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

    Museum Director Blake Fitch said the images on display are part of "an invaluable collection" of 5,400 photographs found in the attic of the Medford Historical Society.

    "The pristine quality of these images brings the horror and tragic consequences of the Civil War to life for the viewer," said Fitch. "The Medford Historical Society has taken great care to maintain and preserve this treasure and we are honored they have allowed us to share such rare and powerful images with the public."

    The exhibit runs through June 25 in the museum at 67 Shore Road, Winchester.

    The photographers in the exhibit, Brady, Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan, George Barnard and Arthur Russell, took the first images of the war seen by the American public. The work of several unknown Northern photographers are also displayed.

    The bulk of the images in the exhibit were taken by photographers traveling with the Union Army, since federal naval blockades cut off critical supplies of paper and chemicals from their Southern counterparts.

    Fitch said the exhibit comprises "first generation photographs" printed from original glass plate negatives.

    The photos on display were selected "on an aesthetic rather than historical basis," she said.

    The exhibit reveals the Civil War's brutal impact in memorable images.

    Only chimney stones remain from the house where widow Judith Henry died after refusing to leave her property during the battle of Bull Run. The bodies of horses killed by shellfire surround a shattered supply wagon. The chair Lincoln was sitting on when assassinated remains at Ford's Theatre.

    The exhibit captures the grit and devastation of modern warfare in stark, remarkably well-preserved black-and-white photographs.

    A derailed locomotives lies across rail lines blown up by saboteurs. Breastworks of sharpened logs surround an artillery battery. Tree trunks are splintered by cannon fire.

    For Fitch, the exhibit "puts a human face" on a conflict too often treated as ancient history.

    Scenes of muddy gravesites, denuded forests and the ruined farmhouses have none of the epic technicolor grandeur of Civil War movies like "Cold Mountain."

    Instead of glamorous actors like Nicole Kidman and Jude Law in picturesque Civil War garb, gaunt men stand in muddy parade grounds.

    Col. Emory Upton, of the 121st New York Volunteers, relaxes with staff and lady friends on the porch of a fine Virginia house. A black servant attends a Union officer's horse. A horse's bleached skull marks the spot where Confederate skirmishers killed General James Birdseye McPherson outside Atlanta.

    James Kushlan, editor of Civil War Times, said, the exhibit will let visitors "look back and see the faces of the people who fought in that enormous struggle."

    "We can see through their eyes, the world they lived in. Those photos bring the war to life and make it easier to connect with history," he said from Harrisburg, Pa.

    At a time most Americans held chivalric ideas about warfare, Kushlan said battlefield photographers horrified the public with grim images of death and devastation.

    "In the North, people were shocked when they first saw photos of Union dead from (the battle of) Antietam," he said.

    Begun around 1830, the art of preserving images on chemically-treated plates changed the way the public thought of war.

    "The Civil War was the first heavily photographed war," Kushlan said. "Almost everyone who went to war had their photograph taken."

    The images on display are just a fraction of a huge collection of photographs found in a wooden chest in the Medford Historical Society in 1989 after sixth-grader Noah Dennon told his father he'd seen interesting Civil war artifacts on a field trip.

    The student's intrigued father, Robert Dennen, joined the MHS and after seeing the extent of the collection, invited eminent historian Brian Pohanka, of Alexandria, Va., to examine the photographs.

    Pohanka, the senior researcher for Time-Life's 27-volume "The Civil War," determined the Medford Historical Society possessed one of the most extensive photographic records of War Between the States.

    Scholars consider it the third largest collection of Civil War photographs in the world.

    The photographs had been collected by Gen. Samuel Crocker Lawrence who commanded the Lawrence Light Guard during the war. He was elected Medford's first mayor in 1892. After Lawrence's death in 1922, his militia company donated to the collection to the MHS in 1948.

    Kushlan described the MHS collection as high quality photographs that convey the everyday realities of a tragic chapter of American history.

    "Nothing like the Medford collection has popped up for some time. The Medford photos are some of the crispest images from that time period," he said.

    Kushlan attributed the high quality of the MHS collection to Lawrence's wealth since he apparently spent money on the best printing methods of his day.

    Kushlan said he doubted another collection of Civil War photographs as extensive as the Medford cache would ever be found.

    After the war, many glass plate negatives of the type used for the exhibit photographs were "scrubbed clean" to make windows or, even, gas mask lenses during World War one, he said.

    "Tragically, we don't tend to value the material culture of our own generation," Kushlan said.

    The Medford Historical Society's photographs should help redress that injustice

    "Landscapes of the Civil War" is a moving reminder some memories must always be preserved.

    THE ESSENTIALS:

    The Griffin Museum of Photography was founded in 1992 by the late Arthur Griffin to provide a forum for the exhibit of historic and contemporary photography.

    Located at 67 Shore Road, Winchester, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for members and seniors. Children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is free on Thursdays. For more information, call 781-729-1158 or visit the Web site, www.griffinmuseum.org.

    The museum is hosting several special programs in conjunction with "Landscapes of the Civil War."


    March 11, 6 to 8 p.m.: The museum will hold a free opening reception for the exhibit.

    March 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m.: MHS Director Jay Griffin will present a slide show and lecture about the collection. Members $7; non-members, $10.

    April 28, 7 to 9 p.m.: The GMP will host a "Landscapes of the Civil War Cotillion" which will feature a period dance performance by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and Salem Light Infantry. There will be beer and wine tasting and special artifacts. Tickets are $50.

    May 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: The museum will host a Civil War encampment that will include several local militia groups.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Here is the link to this exhibit page at Griffin Museum of Photography
    http://www.griffinmuseum.org/civilwar.html

    Does anyone know if these images have been published anywhere? Since they were discovered in 1989, I'm curious to know if they really are rare photos by now or if they are ones that have been out there for a time.The website states, "EIGHT IMAGES NEVER SEEN BEFORE INCLUDED IN EXHIBIT AT THE GRIFFIN MUSEUM."
    Matthew Rector

  • #2
    Re: Griffin Museum of Photography: CW exhibit

    ! I need to see this !

    I've never seen the image that's on the museum's website. Note the officer returning the enlistman's salute with the modern salute.
    Jason R. Wickersty
    http://www.newblazingstarpress.com

    Received. “How now about the fifth and sixth guns?”
    Sent. “The sixth gun is the bully boy.”
    Received. “Can you give it any directions to make it more bully?”
    Sent. “Last shot was little to the right.”
    Received. “Fearfully hot here. Several men sunstruck. Bullets whiz like fun. Have ceased firing for awhile, the guns are so hot."

    - O.R.s, Series 1, Volume 26, Part 1, pg 86.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Griffin Museum of Photography: CW exhibit

      Originally posted by Matthew Rector
      http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ar...rticleid=62663

      Opening America's eyes: Historic photos of Civil War discovered in Medford attic
      By Chris Bergeron / News Staff Writer
      Thursday, March 11, 2004

      WINCHESTER -- Young men pose with swords and pistols. Grave faces stare from battered earthworks. Confederate dead sprawl across an empty meadow.

      Abraham Lincoln looks into the camera with fathomless sorrow.

      Like a family album discovered in an old trunk, 92 rare photographs recall the horrors and humanity of the Civil War in a powerful exhibit at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester.

      Opening today, "Landscapes of the Civil War," features eight never-before-shown images from some of the conflict's greatest photographers, including Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

      Museum Director Blake Fitch said the images on display are part of "an invaluable collection" of 5,400 photographs found in the attic of the Medford Historical Society.

      "The pristine quality of these images brings the horror and tragic consequences of the Civil War to life for the viewer," said Fitch. "The Medford Historical Society has taken great care to maintain and preserve this treasure and we are honored they have allowed us to share such rare and powerful images with the public."

      The exhibit runs through June 25 in the museum at 67 Shore Road, Winchester.

      The photographers in the exhibit, Brady, Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan, George Barnard and Arthur Russell, took the first images of the war seen by the American public. The work of several unknown Northern photographers are also displayed.

      The bulk of the images in the exhibit were taken by photographers traveling with the Union Army, since federal naval blockades cut off critical supplies of paper and chemicals from their Southern counterparts.

      Fitch said the exhibit comprises "first generation photographs" printed from original glass plate negatives.

      The photos on display were selected "on an aesthetic rather than historical basis," she said.

      The exhibit reveals the Civil War's brutal impact in memorable images.

      Only chimney stones remain from the house where widow Judith Henry died after refusing to leave her property during the battle of Bull Run. The bodies of horses killed by shellfire surround a shattered supply wagon. The chair Lincoln was sitting on when assassinated remains at Ford's Theatre.

      The exhibit captures the grit and devastation of modern warfare in stark, remarkably well-preserved black-and-white photographs.

      A derailed locomotives lies across rail lines blown up by saboteurs. Breastworks of sharpened logs surround an artillery battery. Tree trunks are splintered by cannon fire.

      For Fitch, the exhibit "puts a human face" on a conflict too often treated as ancient history.

      Scenes of muddy gravesites, denuded forests and the ruined farmhouses have none of the epic technicolor grandeur of Civil War movies like "Cold Mountain."

      Instead of glamorous actors like Nicole Kidman and Jude Law in picturesque Civil War garb, gaunt men stand in muddy parade grounds.

      Col. Emory Upton, of the 121st New York Volunteers, relaxes with staff and lady friends on the porch of a fine Virginia house. A black servant attends a Union officer's horse. A horse's bleached skull marks the spot where Confederate skirmishers killed General James Birdseye McPherson outside Atlanta.

      James Kushlan, editor of Civil War Times, said, the exhibit will let visitors "look back and see the faces of the people who fought in that enormous struggle."

      "We can see through their eyes, the world they lived in. Those photos bring the war to life and make it easier to connect with history," he said from Harrisburg, Pa.

      At a time most Americans held chivalric ideas about warfare, Kushlan said battlefield photographers horrified the public with grim images of death and devastation.

      "In the North, people were shocked when they first saw photos of Union dead from (the battle of) Antietam," he said.

      Begun around 1830, the art of preserving images on chemically-treated plates changed the way the public thought of war.

      "The Civil War was the first heavily photographed war," Kushlan said. "Almost everyone who went to war had their photograph taken."

      The images on display are just a fraction of a huge collection of photographs found in a wooden chest in the Medford Historical Society in 1989 after sixth-grader Noah Dennon told his father he'd seen interesting Civil war artifacts on a field trip.

      The student's intrigued father, Robert Dennen, joined the MHS and after seeing the extent of the collection, invited eminent historian Brian Pohanka, of Alexandria, Va., to examine the photographs.

      Pohanka, the senior researcher for Time-Life's 27-volume "The Civil War," determined the Medford Historical Society possessed one of the most extensive photographic records of War Between the States.

      Scholars consider it the third largest collection of Civil War photographs in the world.

      The photographs had been collected by Gen. Samuel Crocker Lawrence who commanded the Lawrence Light Guard during the war. He was elected Medford's first mayor in 1892. After Lawrence's death in 1922, his militia company donated to the collection to the MHS in 1948.

      Kushlan described the MHS collection as high quality photographs that convey the everyday realities of a tragic chapter of American history.

      "Nothing like the Medford collection has popped up for some time. The Medford photos are some of the crispest images from that time period," he said.

      Kushlan attributed the high quality of the MHS collection to Lawrence's wealth since he apparently spent money on the best printing methods of his day.

      Kushlan said he doubted another collection of Civil War photographs as extensive as the Medford cache would ever be found.

      After the war, many glass plate negatives of the type used for the exhibit photographs were "scrubbed clean" to make windows or, even, gas mask lenses during World War one, he said.

      "Tragically, we don't tend to value the material culture of our own generation," Kushlan said.

      The Medford Historical Society's photographs should help redress that injustice

      "Landscapes of the Civil War" is a moving reminder some memories must always be preserved.

      THE ESSENTIALS:

      The Griffin Museum of Photography was founded in 1992 by the late Arthur Griffin to provide a forum for the exhibit of historic and contemporary photography.

      Located at 67 Shore Road, Winchester, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for members and seniors. Children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is free on Thursdays. For more information, call 781-729-1158 or visit the Web site, www.griffinmuseum.org.

      The museum is hosting several special programs in conjunction with "Landscapes of the Civil War."


      March 11, 6 to 8 p.m.: The museum will hold a free opening reception for the exhibit.

      March 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m.: MHS Director Jay Griffin will present a slide show and lecture about the collection. Members $7; non-members, $10.

      April 28, 7 to 9 p.m.: The GMP will host a "Landscapes of the Civil War Cotillion" which will feature a period dance performance by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and Salem Light Infantry. There will be beer and wine tasting and special artifacts. Tickets are $50.

      May 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: The museum will host a Civil War encampment that will include several local militia groups.

      -----------------------------------------------
      Here is the link to this exhibit page at Griffin Museum of Photography
      http://www.griffinmuseum.org/civilwar.html

      Does anyone know if these images have been published anywhere? Since they were discovered in 1989, I'm curious to know if they really are rare photos by now or if they are ones that have been out there for a time.The website states, "EIGHT IMAGES NEVER SEEN BEFORE INCLUDED IN EXHIBIT AT THE GRIFFIN MUSEUM."


      Some of these images have appeared locally here in the Boston area, as well as on calendars for sale and the like, but note especially the highest quality of the images due to Gen. Lawrence's wealth, and ability to afford the best quality of production. This high quality would actually appear to supercede that of any formerly published images. Even in yesterday's newspaper the 4 images they reprinted were astounding in detail. The headgear and open collars and expressions on the men of the posed company around a cannon were fascinating. The vast majority of the photos are still under wraps, in the process of being protected and preserved, and others have been on display around here. I am fortunate to live 15 miles from Winchester, Mass., so I can't wait to get a look at these.
      Joe Madden
      13th New Hampshire Vols.
      Co. E
      Unattached

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Griffin Museum of Photography: CW exhibit

        Originally posted by 13thnhv
        I am fortunate to live 15 miles from Winchester, Mass., so I can't wait to get a look at these.
        Please let us know how they are! There is slim chance that I'll be making a trip up there to see them so I certainly hope they'll be published sometime soon. Better yet, put on the internet in .tiff format!!
        Matthew Rector

        Comment

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