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“Battle-field at Antietam…,” by Alexander Gardner, September 1862

At his studio, Mathew Brady displayed staff photographer Alexander Gardner’s images of Antietam, where the bloodiest one-day battle in U.S. history left 23,000 casualties.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Battle-field at Antietam…,” by Alexander Gardner, September 1862

Photographing the Civil War

Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs at the Library of Congress constitute one of the most significant historical resources of the period. Brady, a New York portrait photographer, opened a studio in Washington, D.C., in 1858. Throughout the war, Brady’s staff photographed soldiers, battlefields, and related incidents on glass-plate negatives. The images, sold as prints, reproduced in books, and converted to illustrations for newspapers, were the first to document an American war. Congress acquired the collection between 1875 and 1954 to preserve this visual history for future generations.