Library of Congress

Using GIMP to Colorize Civil War Era Photos

by fifer1863 on October 14, 2014

Bringing Civil War Photos to Life with Color

As you know I am a huge fan of having students use primary sources in the classroom.  This is especially true when comes to using photographs from the Library of Congress.  I have blogged about using images in the past.  I have also crated videos on finding photos from the Library of Congress, Creating Then and Now Images and Using Them  with Google Earth.

The Civil War in Living Color!

Here is a new way that you and your students can work with photographs in your classroom.  As you know, photographs from the Civil War era are in black and white.  Well, while the image may be in black and white, the original subjects certainly were in full color!  The following is an image of John Burns who is the only civilian to fight in the Battle of Gettysburg.


And here is the same photo of John Burns that I have colorized.

John Burns Colorized


Using the free photo editing software GIMP, I have taken a once boring, black and white image and brought Mr. Burns to life with a little bit of color.  Using a process of adding layers and layer masks, you are able to bring the images to life.  Have your students research clothes, weapons, landscapes, etc.  Have them think about a picture and what color an object or person might be an why.  This gets them thinking about an image and then creating something entirely new based on their research.

How To Video:

Here is a video on how you can colorize your own Civil War photos:



If you try this, take a moment and let me know either here on the blog, on Facebook or via Twitter.


Google Earth and Devils Den

by fifer1863 on September 23, 2014

Using original photographs and Google Earth to Explore the Battle of Gettysburg

In an effort to continue my exploration of original Gettysburg photographs using Google Earth, I have created a new video on exploring some of the famous locations in Devil’s Den.  Be sure to check out my Rose Woods video and other videos on my YouTube Channel.  You can find all of the original photos via the Library of Congress website.

If you’d like to download the Google Earth file for this video, you can find it at:  Devil’s Den KMZ file.



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Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 6

by fifer1863 on August 16, 2011

Teaching the Civil War Podcast logo




Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I discuss Civil War era music and some ways teachers can use Civil War music in their classrooms.

Feedback on the show? email me at

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Music is by the Excelsior Brigade Fifes and Drums and is used with permission.

Subscribe in iTunes


Acoustic Shadows of the Blue and Gray

Camp Chase Fifes and Drums

119th New York Fifes & Drums

David Kincaid

Library of Congress Links

Civil War Sheet Music Collection

Band Music from the Civil War

Battle Hymn of the Republic




Harriet Tubman resources from the Library of Congress

March 25, 2011

Here is a quick link to some great resources on Harriet Tubman that are available via the digital collections at the Library of Congress. These resources include items like photographs, books, and various manuscripts. The Harriet Tubman Online Resources page provides numerous links to different websites that all contain digital historical resources related to Harriet […]

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Portrait of Robert E. Lee

February 6, 2010

The Library of Congress sponsors discussions on various books and broadcasts them via their website. One of the webcasts was about Robert E. Lee and features the author Elizabeth Brown Pryor. The author talks about her research into Robert E. Lee and provides a unique insight into this famous historical figure. Check out the webcast […]

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Civil War era Presidential Elections

November 21, 2009

In this season of elections, I thought it would be interesting to share a website on Civil War era elections. Harper’s Weekly has created a website for researching historical elections from 1860 to 1912. According to the website, the Presidential Elections page features political cartoons from several different digital resource centers such as Harper’s Weekly, […]

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Image of Lincoln at Gettysburg

November 19, 2009

Since I have posted on The Gettysburg Address in the past, I thought I would share this USA Today headline article about a “new” image of Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg being found at the Library of Congress. The story discusses how an amateur historian was looking at photographs of the famous Gettysburg Address and found […]

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Using Photos Part 1

August 8, 2009

So I thought that I would start a series on how to use photographs from the Civil War era in order to increase understanding. Looking at photographs can tell us a great deal about many different aspects of the war. Today we will discuss the following photograph from the Library of Congress website: This photo […]

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Podcast from Ford’s Theater

April 16, 2009

Eric Langhorst is an 8th grade American History teacher in Liberty, Missouri and runs the Speaking of History podcast and blog. Eric has some great resources on his website for using Web 2.0 technologies into the teaching of History. Eric recorded the presentation of a National Park Service Ranger at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC […]

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Using Photographs from the LOC

March 29, 2009

As many of you know, the Library of Congress has a website called Selected Civil War Photographs. This page makes browsing the photographs easy because they have a Search feature, a Subject browse, or you can look at photos from each year of the War. There is also information about Understand and Working with the […]

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