What We See
- Group at the Sanitary Commission Fair, Albany, New York, 1864
- Churchill and Dennison Studios
- Salted-paper print, 6.0"x8.0"
- American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery
- Purchase made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
- Image No. 1994.91.40
These girls with guns were expressing their patriotic support of the Union army at an industrial fair sponsored by the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Albany, New York, in 1864. The commission was organized in 1861 to generate funds and increase public support for the health and welfare of the soldiers engaged in the Civil War effort. Fairs held throughout the United States showcased the North’s industries and arts to raise money for the cause. Exhibitions and competitions staged at the fairs often featured photography and offered awards and prizes. Photographers used these gatherings as an opportunity to set up temporary studios for taking and selling portraits, which not only promoted their work to the visiting public but also benefited the Sanitary Commission’s coffers.