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Alexander Gardner
1821 - 1882
Prominent Photographer of Civil War and the American West

Though overshadowed by the eminent Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner was considered to be one of America's top-ranking photographers when photography was in its infancy. Gardner left behind a remarkable photographic legacy of the Civil War and American life in the mid-19th century. Gardner was born in Paisley in 1821 when photography was virtually unknown. The first photo in Scotland was taken in 1843. ■ Fascinated by photography, Gardner took up portraiture in late youth and practiced his art in the Glasgow area. At age 35 he became known to Matt Brady and was invited to join Brady in a Washington portrait studio. Gardner accepted and proved to be a remarkably astute businessman. His Washington, D.C. studio was more successful and earned more profit than Brady's headquarters in New York. ■ When the Civil War broke out, Gardner assisted Brady with his plan to make a complete photographic record of the conflict. However, Brady refused to give Gardner any public credit for his work and they parted company. Gardner opened his own studio in Washington and continued to photograph the war. He published a Sketch Book of the Civil War containing 100 of his best photographs. After the war, both Brady and Gardner offered their collections to Congress for purchase. Congress bought both. Gardner made more photographs of Lincoln than anyone else, including the last one of the Great Emancipator a few days before his death. ■ As official photographer for the Union Pacific Railroad, Gardner photographed western life and western scenery. He also published a book of photographs, Indians of the Great Plains. ■ He retired to Washington, D.C., where he died in 1862.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546