This is Miss E. Demine, in a photo taken by Mathew Brady circa 1863. Her image is part of a collection titled “Women of the Civil War” and is commonly referred to as “Girl in a Double-Breasted Jacket.”
I downloaded the full-size scan of this image from the National Archives and did a few hours of restoration work in Lightroom and Photoshop. I’m an absolute amateur when it comes to restoring old photos. This one was in very good shape, though. The only problems were many white spots and lines across the photo. It was tedious, but certainly not impossible to restore. The restoration is certainly not complete or perfect, but I didn’t want it that way. After all, it was taken in the 19th century- no photography from that time period was perfect.
Mathew Brady is known as the father of modern photojournalism. His photos of the Civil War were the first to show Americans the horrors of war, and the first to show the gore of battle, something most people had never seen before. Some believe these images helped end the war. In fact, Brady was more of a “project manager,” sending out a team of photographers to photograph the battles. Many of the images attributed to him were actually taken by others.
But there was something else too, more than just battles, dead bodies, and canons. More than Lincoln and slaves. More than North and South, Union and Confederate. There were people like Miss E. Demine. I wonder what her life was like? What was her first name? What horrors of the Civil War did she witness? Was she Union or Confederate? Was she wealthy or poor? I guess we’ll never know.