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Who's in that picture? The Library of Congress needs your help


  • Photo 1 of 9

    Unidentified child named Carl who became a soldier; with handwritten note and lock of hair in case. The inscription on handwritten note: "My beloved son Carl taken from me on April 1, 1865, at age 18, killed at Dinwiddie. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." (Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2)

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 2 of 9

    Unidentified girl in mourning dress holding framed photograph of her father as a cavalryman with sword and Hardee hat. Photo shows a girl holding a framed image of her father. Judging from her necklace, mourning ribbons, and dress, it is likely that her father was killed in the war.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 3 of 9

    Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with musket and bayonet.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 4 of 9

    Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with musket, knapsack, and bedroll.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 5 of 9

    Two unidentified soldiers in Union captain's uniform and lieutenant's uniform, holding foot officers' swords, wearing frock coats, over-the-shoulder belt for sword attachment, and red sashes.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 6 of 9

    Unidentified soldier in Union artillery uniform standing next to pedestal holding revolver and American flag.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 7 of 9

    Unidentified young sailor in Union uniform.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 8 of 9

    Unidentified young African American soldier in Union uniform.

    - The Library of Congress

  • Photo 9 of 9

    Unidentified soldier in Union captain's uniform with revolver in breast pocket

    - The Library of Congress

Unidentified child named Carl who became a soldier; with handwritten note and lock of hair in case. The inscription on handwritten note: "My beloved son Carl taken from me on April 1, 1865, at age 18, killed at Dinwiddie. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." (Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2)

Unidentified young sailor in Union uniform.

Helena Zinkham is Chief of the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. She tells us that the library has "acres" of material in its vast storehouses, most of which hasn't seen the light of day in a long time. Of the 130 million items in the library's collection, 14 million are photographs. Of those 14 million, maybe a million and a half have been digitally scanned.

These photos are from a collection of nearly 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs donated by the Liljenquist family as part of an effort to learn the stories of the soldiers, the stories that reach beyond the picture frame. They were first posted late last week.

Zinkham says the Library of Congress has been crowdsourcing for information on the web for about five years now and it's been very successful. She says she's learned interesting information already from people who've seen the photos online. One person wrote in to say that the type of gun seen in one of the photos would never have been brought to battle so that picture was probably taken in a photo studio instead of near a battlefield.

Personally, I just can't stop looking in the eyes of these soldiers.

Also in this program, and on a much, much lighter note, we sample some of the many Hulks of Twitter. You've heard of The Incredible Hulk but how about Lit Crit Hulk?


You can see Tech Report's slideshow of the Library of Congress's "Civil War Faces" here.

Unidentified child named Carl who became a soldier; with handwritten note and lock of hair in case. The inscription on handwritten note: "My beloved son Carl taken from me on April 1, 1865, at age 18, killed at Dinwiddie. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." (Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2)

Unidentified young sailor in Union uniform.

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