DIGITAL PROGRAM: The Rise of Photojournalism Through the Daguerreian Era and Civil War
It didn’t take long for the world’s early daguerreotypists to begin capturing images of newsworthy events, lecturer Bob Zeller shows in his image-rich, one-hour presentation The Rise of Photojournalism Through the Daguerreian Era and the Civil War.
In 1841, just two years after the introduction of the daguerreotype, three different artists created photojournalistic daguerreotype plates of newsworthy events – daguerreotype photographs that would have merited publication in local newspapers had that been possible.
Many photojournalistic daguerreotypes survive, covering nearly every year of the first two decades of photography. Drawing from astounding resources from museums and archives around the world now available on the World Wide Web as well as his own collection and other private collections, Zeller has created a compelling visual record of world, national and local news events in the early years of photography.
Parades, funerals, fires, floods, train wrecks, political rallies, wars, and hangings were part of life in the 1840 and 1850s and the visual record of some of them were preserved on silver plates. The first war ever photographed – the Mexican War – is featured, as well as the California Gold Rush, where Zeller focuses on lost daguerreotypes of news events that were preserved only as lithographs as well as plates that have survived.
The presentation covers Anthony instantaneous wet plate stereo views of news events that were taken on the eve of The Civil War. Then Zeller shows how Confederate photographers were that war’s first photographers, He covers Alexander Gardner’s famous images taken after the battle of Antietam, showing a strictly private, tabloid-worthy photo of the Union Army of the Potomac’s top staff having a cocktail party on the day President Abraham Lincoln visited the army at Antietam.
The show also features history’s first documented combat action photographs as well as several remarkable four-frame sequential wet plate photos taken in 1864 that reveal themselves as crude motion pictures when animated. As he reaches the end of the war, he shows how news events were being photographed as they happened in moment-by-moment images, even though the first halftone newspaper photo was still 15 years in the future. But he closes the show, he returns to daguerreotypes, with three final photojournalistic plates taken in 1865 and 1867.
Presenter: Bob Zeller
Writer and historian Bob Zeller is the co-founder and president of The Center for Civil War Photography – www.civilwarphotography.org – which was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation in 2001. He also edits the organization’s historical journal, Battlefield Photographer.
Twenty-three years ago, Zeller reintroduced the war’s 3-D photographs into the mainstream of Civil War studies with his groundbreaking stereoscopic photo history of the war: The Civil War in Depth – History in 3-D. (Chronicle Books, 1997). It was the first book to present Civil War stereo photos the way they were taken and meant to be seen.
“No one has gone into the 3-D aspect,” wrote Civil War historian James I. Robertson. “He is a pioneer in an exciting new field.” A review in the New York Times Book Review said the images “seem to jump out at the viewer.”
Since then, Zeller and Chronicle have published The Civil War in Depth Volume II, (2000), as well as Lincoln in 3-D, co-authored with John Richter (2010). Zeller is also the author of The Blue and Gray in Black and White: A History of Civil War Photography (Praeger, 2005), the first and only book-length narrative history on the photography of the war. Zeller’s latest book, published in May 2017, is Fighting the Second Civil War: A History of Battlefield Preservation and the Emergence of The Civil War Trust.
As a lecturer on Civil War photography for more than 30 years, Zeller has presented 3-D shows at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Associates, Museum of the Confederacy, Chrysler Museum, the Newseum, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Maryland Historical Society and more than 150 other venues.
Zeller, 68, is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism (B.J. ’74). He became a self-employed writer in 1998 after spending 25 years in newspapers as an investigative reporter and, later, a motorsports writer.
Zeller has authored or co-authored more than 20 books, including books with NASCAR stars Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon, and Daytona 500 – An Official History (David Bull Publishing, 2002).
Bob is married to former photojournalist and city manager Ann G. Bailie. They have two grown children and live beside Lake Norman, North Carolina.
NOTE: This program will premier on the ACHS Facebook Page, [www.facebook.com/achspa] at 7PM on Thursday, October 1st. To receive updates about future programs, join our email list here: https://www.achs-pa.org/news-events/mailing-list.html