Martha Sandweiss: Is There Anything More to See?

Martha A. Sandweiss, Princeton University
Civil War @ 150: Is There Anything More to See?
CUNY Graduate Center
November 3, 2011

In this thirteen minute presentation, historian Martha Sandweiss challenges assumptions and some of the uses of Civil War photographs as historical documents. Although biased, unreliable, and unrepresentative, the images are mostly used as illustrations of events. While we remain fascinated with Civil War images, there is insufficient knowledge of how they were created and how they circulated in their own time. Research remains if we are to understand how these photographs shaped public opinion while simultaneously competing with other forms of imagery of the period. Today, we are left with the challenge of “how the limited and biased photographic record has shaped both public memory of a complex event and the writing of scholars, making us more likely to narrate some stories at the expense of others.” This talk was part of the public seminar: Is There Anything More to See?