Images from Civil War-era America
Meticulously Enhanced and Colorized
More than 3,000,000 Americans fought in the Civil War. By its conclusion in 1865, more than 600,000 men had been killed. In single battles, more soldiers died in combat than in all previous American wars combined.
Amidst the bloodiest conflict the nation has ever seen, American people witnessed events unfold that would determine the future of that nation. Mothers wept for their lost sons. Children longed for fathers who would never return.
Millions felt worry, heartbreak, and despair---feelings that made them human.
They truly felt, heard, and saw the world just as vividly as we now do.
This project aims to remove the veil of age; to help us realize that they saw their world as we now can: in vivid color and clarity.
A project by Adam "A.B." Cannon
The images on this page are all derived from several early photographic methods including Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Tintypes.
Daguerreotypes, introduced in 1839, have a distinctive appearance. Because they’re reflective, you have to tilt them at a 45-degree angle in order to view the image. Otherwise, the silver-coated copper plate is often so shiny you just see yourself in the plate.
Ambrotypes, patented in 1854, are on glass. Backed with a dark substance (such as varnish or paper) they look positive, but when the backing starts to deteriorate, you can often see through the glass. This gives the image a ghostly appearance.
Tintypes, patented in 1856, are actually on iron, not tin. Unlike a daguerreotype, tintypes are not reflective. While you can find them in cases (like the previous two image types), most tintypes found in collections aren’t in any type of protective sleeve or case.
A Commitment to Fidelity
Groundbreaking new technologies exist which can instantly colorize and enhance photos using artificial intelligence.
This technology may produce seemingly favorable results, however, their algorithms and learning models create images that are never historically accurate.
The images featured here adhere solely to manual digital modifications to create the most faithful, historically true-to-life results possible. From period accurate dyes, to maintaining the most minute facial imperfections, this project is dedicated to preserving the fidelity of the original subjects as possible.
Support the project
ALIVE: The Civil War in Color is a work in progress. A book and documentary are planned. I'm currently seeking for a publisher and other professional contacts to further showcase this work. If you are interested in working together on this project, please contact me here.
This project is currently an independent labor of love. All donations are sincerely appreciated and will go directly toward progressing this project and the ultimate goal of showcasing humanity during the Civil War. Thank you.
A selection of images from ALIVE.
Additional images coming soon.