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Civil War Era Photos: Help Identify Them

The Library of Congress needs your help identifying people in these amazing photographs from the Civil War. Could one of them be your relative?

The Library of Congress recently acquired a collection of nearly 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs depicting Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, but they don't know who these people were and they need your help. Writes the Library of Congress:

Among the rarest images are African Americans in uniform, sailors, a Lincoln campaign button, and portraits of soldiers with their wives and children. A few personal stories survived in notes pinned to the photo cases, but most of the people and photographers are unidentified.


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In an effort to gather names, stories, and information, The Library has posted the Civil War era portraits on Flickr and needs you to pitch in on this crowd-sourced photo-forensics project.

"The Library of Congress has been crowdsourcing for information on the web for about five years now and it's been very successfu," Helena Zinkham, The Library's Chief of the Prints and Photographs Division, told PRI's Marketplace. "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."

An exhibition of the collection will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War in April 2011.