Alexander Gardner Grocer, Jeweler, Publisher, Philanthropist, and Premier Civil War Photographer
Born in Scotland in 1821, Alexander Gardner worked in the grocery business with his family, apprenticed as a jeweler, became the publisher of the Glasgow Journal, and trained as a photographer. After immigrating to New York in 1856, he worked with Mathew Brady, introducing the latest techniques in wet plate photography. Alexander Gardner is best known for his Civil War photography. He was instrumental in capturing the first real battlefield photographs ever taken. Working from his gallery in Washington DC, he had 7 separate sittings with President Lincoln (more than any other photographer). He also documented details of Lincoln’s assassination and the capture and execution of the conspirators. Shortly after the Civil War, the Kansas Pacific Railroad employed Alexander Gardner to document the possible routes for new rail service in Kansas and points west. Alexander Gardner became the primary Washington photographer for visiting Indian delegations. He was also invited to travel to the West to record the signing of major treaties. In 1871 Gardner dedicated his time to the betterment of his fellows through work with the Masonic Relief organization and other charities. Alexander Gardner is available to speak on a variety of topics: Alexander Gardner – a man made for the times in which he lived. Civil War Battlefields – after the battle is not a pleasant time and place. Photographing President Lincoln – sittings from pre-election through assassination and execution of the conspirators. The Birth of Photojournalism – does history make the image or does the image make history? Recording the West – Kansas Pacific Railroad survey and photographing Indians. Early Photography – an exercise in chemistry and patience. Stereophotography – how do we really see depth? Alexander Gardner is performed by Doug McGovern, photographer, teacher, and engineer. Doug McGovern supports this presentation with recreations of the camera, stereoscopes, and stereo pictures from the early days of photography and the photo documentation of the Civil War.