Gardner's Civil War Photography

Historical content: 
Civil War and Reconstruction
Historical skills: 
Contextualization, Corroboration, Sourcing



Examine the photographs, source information, and background information to answer the questions below.

Background Information: Alexander Gardner, a famous Civil War photographer, took the two photographs below. Each photograph shows the same deceased soldier.


Photographer: Alexander Gardner
Date: 1863

"A Sharpshooter's Last Sleep," Gettysburg.
"The Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter," Gettysburg.

Question 1: What about these photographs might cause you to question their reliability?

Question 2: What is one thing you would want to know about Alexander Gardner or how he took these photos to better determine their reliability?

About the Assessment

Like the Lange assessment, this question asks students to engage in sourcing, contextualization, and corroboration. Students are asked to consider how the content of the two photographs could affect their reliability. Then, students must think of something else they would like to know about the circumstances of the photographs in order to further evaluate the reliability of the photographs.