Matthew B. Brady Essay, Research Paper
Mathew B. Brady: Civil War Photographer
Mathew B. Brady: Civil War Photographer was written by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Elizabeth Van Steenwyk has written many good books for young people including: Saddlebag Salesmen, The California Missions, Frederic Remington, The California Gold Rush: West with the Forty-Niners, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Woman of Courage. Elizabeth now lives in San Marino, California with her husband.
Mathew B. Brady was born somewhere between 1823 and 1824. His early life is somewhat a mystery. He was born in Warren County in New York and his parents might have been Irish immigrants. His middle name was even a mystery, when asked what the B stood for he said that he inserted it because it seemed more distinguished. When he turned 16 he met William Page, a man wanting to become an artist. The both of them worked together, and Page s artistic abilities were most likely Brady s starting interest in becoming a photographer. In 1839 or 1840 Brady and Page moved to New York City. Meanwhile, a French inventor named Louis-Jacques-Mand Daguerre was inventing something that would change Brady s life.
In 1839 Daguerre invented his camera. Samuel F. B. Morse went over to France to check out Daguerre s camera. He wrote back to a magazine saying that it was perhaps the greatest invention in this age. When Samuel Morse returned to New York City and started a school for learning how to use the camera. Brady, very interested in the camera, signed up for lessons. Several years later Brady graduated and started his own little photography business on Broadway. In 1844 Brady won first place in the first photographic contest in America. Winning the contest also won Brady a lot of clients. He became very popular in New York. He took pictures of twenty-five famous people and therefore published The Gallery of Illustrious Americans. He opened another studio in Washington, D.C., and he then met Julia Handy whom he married. In 1850 Queen Victoria held a contest that was open to anyone around the world. Brady left for Europe and then signed up for the contest. He went over to France so he could meet Daguerre, but unfortunately Daguerre died while Brady was on his way. Brady was very disappointed. He was glad when he found out that he won first place in Queen Victoria s contest. In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer invented the wet-plate process , a new way to take photographs. Brady signed up for lessons to learn how to use the new process. Alexander Gardner joined Brady s studio in 1856. He photographed more famous people including Abraham Lincoln and the Prince of Wales. Brady s life is about to hit another climax, this climax is the Civil War.
When the Civil War was declared in 1861 people wanted to know what was really happening on the battlefields. So Brady and several of his colleagues traveled to the battlefields and there they photographed the war. Brady and his men were at most of the battles and took very good photographs. In 1863, Alexander Gardner left Brady and started his own photography business. Gardner was mad because Brady supposedly took credit for pictures that Gardner photographed. At the end of the war Brady had a lot of photographs of the war. Brady went back to his two studios and continued running them. He was in very poor health by this time because of his old age. His eyesight was very bad by the end of the war. Brady was in debt from photographing the war and not getting paid for doing it. Julia Handy, his wife, died in 1887. He tried selling his negatives to the government to pay his debts, but they turned him down. They finally bought one set of negatives for twenty-five thousand dollars, but it was to late because he had already given his other set to a company that he had high debts in.
Mathew Brady died on January 16, 1896. Before he died he had to sell his studios. He died a man without much money. He was an important person in our American history for the fact that he photographed much of the Civil War. Mathew Brady may have died a poor man, but his photographs are now worth thousands of dollars.