People who lived during the time of the Civil War may not have had cell phones and digital cameras, but they still had photographs taken of themselves. The most popular images were not called selfies, but carte de visites (CDVs). These were small albumen prints which were mounted on cards measuring about 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches. They were easy to make, inexpensive, and easy to mail. Soldiers had CDVs taken to send back home to their families and friends, wives sent CDVs of themselves or their children, and girlfriends and fiancées sent CDVs to their sweethearts at war.
|This is a nice carte de visite of Union Surgeon Elias Marsh wearing his uniform, taken about 1865.|
It appears that things haven’t changed all that much! Today we still use photographs as a way to remember loved ones, and to help find or identify missing persons. So, when the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area came up with an idea for creating opportunities for "Civil War selfies" at several of the area’s Civil War sites, we were glad to participate! See more information about their program here.
We had to find a spot for our visitors to take these pictures, so we rearranged the lobby just a bit to add a mannequin of a Civil War surgeon which people could stand beside to take their selfies.
|Kyle and I had to repurpose a mannequin from our old Recruiting Gallery scene, where he had been dressed as a civilian. I’ll go on record here to say that it’s not easy to undress or redress a mannequin!|
|Kyle got the honor of taking the first selfie with Bartholomew.|
|He thought there was something missing though, so a flag was hung behind the mannequin. It looks like a good spot to take a selfie!|
|Our museum’s founder, Dr. Gordon Dammann, seems to think so too!|
If you get a chance to visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, please join in the fun! Be sure to stop by and take a picture with our Surgeon Bartholomew, then post it and tag it #CivilWarSelfies.
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.