Viewing the Civil War from a rare perspective
Soldiers sharing a meal. African-American slaves gathered for worship in a plantation chapel. These slice-of-life pictures are among those most cherished by Robin Stanford, an eminent collector of Civil War photographs.
"The little details fascinate me. Even in the midst of war, people try to maintain a quality of life, to go about their everyday life," says Stanford, who has collected thousands of Civil War images over the past four decades.
In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the war, over 300 rare photographs from her esteemed collection were featured in "The Civil War in Photographs: New Perspectives from the Robin Stanford Collection" at DeGolyer Library this spring.
Stanford, who lives in Houston, says she found a Civil War soul mate in Anne E. Peterson, the DeGolyer's curator of photographs and an expert on photographer Alexander Gardner. Gardner's uncredited work for famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady produced many of the war's most enduring images.
Peterson curated the exhibit and wrote this description in the accompanying catalog: "The most striking aspect of her collection is not only the sheer quantity of images, mostly stereographs, but the number of rare views by almost unknown photographers and in locations not much documented."
"The Civil War in Photographs" garnered accolades in the local and national media. On February 21, the Discovery Channel touted it in a 14-image slideshow on its online news site. On February 28, Joy Tipping wrote about its "huge emotional payoff" in a review for The Dallas Morning News.
The exhibit lives on in the 95-page, full-color catalog containing more than 200 illustrations, many of which have never before been published. Information about ordering the catalog is available online at smu.edu/cul/degolyer/ or by calling the library at 214-768-0829.