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"To see some few proofs of enormous wickedness": The Use of Photographs and Wood Engravings of Prisoners of War in Six American Civil War Publications, 1864-1865

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posted on 08.06.2021, 09:27 authored by Emily McKibbon
This thesis addresses the use of a set of photographs of returned prisoners of war (POWs) published both as tipped-in albumen prints and as wood engravings in six different publications from 1864 and 1865, including three versions of Narrative of Privations and Sufferings of United States Officers and Soldiers while Prisoners of War in the Hands of the rebel Authorities, one pamphlet, and two magazine articles, The discussion focuses on the dissemination of these images by the United States Sanitary Commission, the ways in which the photographs were presented in the individual publications that contained them, the decisions that the engravers made in translating the photographs into wood engravings and the visual codes that informed the photographs and the related engravings. The illustrated essay situates these photographs and wood engravings within the political context of the American Civil War and the history of photography in the 1860s. The dissemination of photographic imagery via wood engravings before the widespread use of halftone reproductions, beginning in the 1880s, is presently under researched. The paper encourages consideration of wood engravings when examining the history of photographic reproduction during this transitional time period.





Photographic Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University