See a Grandmother’s Collection of Civil War Photos Digitized by Library of Congress

Hundreds of stereoscopic images acquired in time for the 150th anniversary of the war

An uncaptioned scene from Charleston, South Carolina, 1861.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
Plantation no. 7, Rockville Plantation church, Charleston, South Carolina, 1863.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
Members of the Marion Light Artillery cleaning a gun in one of the batteries on Coles Island, South Carolina, 1861.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
An uncaptioned scene from Charleston, South Carolina, circa 1861 - 1863.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
Plantation no. 12, Rockville Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina, 1863.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois draped in mourning on the day of his funeral, 1865.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
An interior view of Fort Moultrie in Charleston harbor after the first bombardment by the Confederates. Confederate soldiers are gathered on the parapet with artillery, 1861.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
Flags waving at the Baltimore rail terminal where a crowd is gathered awaiting the arrival of Abraham Lincoln's funeral car on April 21, 1865.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
A procession following Abraham Lincoln's funeral car on the streets of Philadelphia, April 22, 1865.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
A view from a hill of a crowd observing a tribute to Abraham Lincoln on the street below, San Francisco, c. 1865-1867.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
A view of Charleston harbor from the battery with a ship at anchor in the distance. One man leans against the fence post while another is seated on a bench, 1861.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress
A view of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. after the death of Abraham Lincoln showing mourning bands draped on columns, and a flag at half staff, 1865.The Robin G. Stanford Collection—Library of Congress

The Library of Congress announced on Friday the acquisition of over 500 stunningly rare photographs from the Civil War era, 77 of which have already been digitized.

The stereoscopic images, credited mostly to Osborn & Durbec's Southern Photographic Depot, were collected over four decades by Robin Stanford, an 87-year-old grandmother from Houston, Texas. When viewed through a device similar to the classic View Master toy of the 60s and 70s, they show a 3D picture of a young nation gripped by war and slavery.

"I'm a little old lady, so I've had plenty of time to do it," Stanford told the Washington Post last week. "I'm lucky."

What’s particularly special about the collection is that they’re not just post-war or reconstruction photos, many of which have surfaced previously. These actually include images of black life under the institution of slavery, as well as scenes from Lincoln’s funeral procession, and the war-ravaged American landscape.

Stanford says she began the collection in the 70s after stumbling upon a $20 old stereo viewer and some pictures at an antique show. She had planned to pass it on to her son, but after he died suddenly last year at age 53, she decided to sell some of her photographs for an undisclosed amount to help her daughter-in-law and grandchildren finish their education. The 500 acquired by the Library of Congress make up just a fraction of the several-thousand-image archive.

"You know how it is with collecting," she told the Post. "You put your toe in the water, and next thing you know, you're paddling like crazy."

The Library of Congress announced on Friday the acquisition of over 500 stunningly rare photographs from the Civil War era, 77 of which have already been digitized.

The stereoscopic images, credited mostly to Osborn & Durbec's Southern Photographic Depot, were collected over four decades by Robin Stanford, an 87-year-old grandmother from Houston, Texas. When viewed through a device similar to the classic View Master toy of the 60s and 70s, they show a 3D picture of a young nation gripped by war and slavery.

"I'm a little old lady, so I've had plenty of time to do it," Stanford told the Washington Post last week. "I'm lucky."

What’s particularly special about the collection is that they’re not just post-war or reconstruction photos, many of which have surfaced previously. These actually include images of black life under the institution of slavery, as well as scenes from Lincoln’s funeral procession, and the war-ravaged American landscape.

Stanford says she began the collection in the 70s after stumbling upon a $20 old stereo viewer and some pictures at an antique show. She had planned to pass it on to her son, but after he died suddenly last year at age 53, she decided to sell some of her photographs for an undisclosed amount to help her daughter-in-law and grandchildren finish their education. The 500 acquired by the Library of Congress make up just a fraction of the several-thousand-image archive.

"You know how it is with collecting," she told the Post. "You put your toe in the water, and next thing you know, you're paddling like crazy."

ADVERTISEMENT