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African American Military Portraits from the American Civil War

Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War (1861-1865), this exhibit features remarkable photographic portraits of African American soldiers and sailors who took part in this epic chapter of our nation's history. Reproduced in large format from the original antique photographs, these images are selections from the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs and the Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs, both of which are housed at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. These photographs are visual reminders of the pride, determination, and sense of destiny that filled these men with a profound resolve as they sought a rightful place in the fabric of this nation for themselves and an entire people. The portraits in this exhibit are supplemented with biographical research, original period documents, artifacts, and historically-accurate reconstructions.

All images are from the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Photo Gallery

Private 103rd Colored Infantry
Quarter-Plate, Hand Tinted Tintype taken between 1863 - 1865. Image depicts an unidentified Union private from "B" Company, 103rd Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry. The photograph was probably taken in South Carolina or Georgia where the 103rd saw service during the war.

Seated Union Sailor
Ninth-Plate Tintype taken between 1861 and 1865. Image depicts an enlisted rating of the United States Navy.

Union Cavalry Sergeant
Ninth-Plate Hand Tinted Ambrotype taken between 1863 - 1865. This image shows an African American Union cavalry sergeant with a saber. He would have been attached to one of the five Black cavalry regiments raised by the Union during the Civil War.

Union Private and Family
Quarter-Plate Ambrotype taken between 1863 and 1865. Image depicts a Black Union Army private and his wife and twin daughters. This image has recently become something of an icon of the African American experience during the American Civil War.

Union Private at Benton Barracks, Missouri
Quarter-Plate Hand Tinted Tintype taken between 1863 - 1865. This tinted photograph was taken by photographer Enoch Long at the Union post of Benton Barracks in Missouri.

Installation Photos - Photography by Gene Ogami
Exhibition Programs

Saturday, February 2, 2013, 7:00pm - Documentary Film Screening
The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry
(60 min., 2012) 
This film chronicles the formation and the heroism of the first all-Black Union regiment, the 54th Colored Infantry of Boston after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  RSVP preferred 213.744.2024. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 7:00pm - Reception 5:30pm
Celebrating Black History Month
Presentation and Lecture by Hari Jones, Curator
African American Civil War Memorial, Washington, DC

Black History Month Tribute reception and lecture with Hari Jones, Curator - African American Civil War Memorial, Washington, DC.Last year attendees enjoyed a riveting lecture by Mr. Jones, noted historian and adept storyteller, whose oration transfixed our audience. This year, the focus is on the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the fight to pass the 13th Amendment to end slavery, and the critical role played by African Americans in the Civil War. This event is free and the lecture is open to the public.