January 21, 2011 •
The Father of Photojournalism.
Last week marked the 115th anniversary of the death of Mathew Brady. Many of our readers probably never have heard of Mathew Brady, yet we know some of his photographs very well. Today’s Highlighted Site of the Week, Mathewbrady.com, is dedicated to him.
Born in 1822, Brady is credited with being the father of photojournalism. He took his camera and gear right into the battlefields of the Civil War and took thousands of pictures. So much of what we know about the war we owe to Mathew Brady. In addition to photos of the battles, he created portraits of officers on both the Union and Confederate sides including Ulysses S. Grant, William Sherman, General Custer, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson. Brady photographed other notables including King Edward VII of England, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Edgar Allen Poe.
According to the site, Brady photographed 18 United States Presidents, and the most famous from the list would have to be Abraham Lincoln. This is what makes Mathew Brady so familiar to all of us – it was his photographs that were used for the Lincoln five-dollar bill, for Lincoln postage stamps, and the Lincoln penny.
There is a sad irony that Brady, someone so important to our country, had a difficult life and – according to the web site – died alone and penniless in 1896.
Mathewbrady.com is a fitting tribute to this historic photographer. The site offers a biography of Mathew Brady and a history of the processes of photography. Far and away the best feature, however, is the gallery of portraits, which is simply amazing.
Perhaps we all have come to take for granted that we have easy access to 24-hour news with visual coverage from anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. But for those of us who follow government news and world events, in a way it all started with Mathew Brady. I urge everyone to take a few moments to visit Mathewbrady.com and learn a bit about this truly great American treasure.