Brady, Mathew B., c.1823–96, American pioneer in photography, b. Warren co., N.Y. Brady learned the daguerreotype process from S. F. B. Morse and in 1844 opened his own photographic studio in New York City, which brought him fame as America's first great portrait photographer. He published Gallery of Illustrious Americans in 1850 and five years later experimented successfully with the wet-plate process. He began photographing President Lincoln in 1860. When the Civil War began Brady was authorized to accompany and photograph the armies. Though he took some photographs himself, much of the time he sent other photographers to the front and served as an agent for their work. Through his efforts a vast visual record of the war was preserved. In 1875 the government purchased part of Brady's collection, but the rest passed into private hands after his financial failure. In 1954 the Library of Congress acquired the enormous Handy collection of Brady's work.
See biography by R. Wilson (2013); R. Meredith, Mr. Lincoln's Camera Man (1946, repr. 1974); J. D. Horan, Mathew Brady, Historian with a Camera (1955); H. D. Milhollen and D. H. Mugridge, comp., Civil War Photographs (1961); M. Panzer, Mathew Brady and the Image of History (museum catalog, 1997); H. Y. Hyslop, Eyewitness to the Civil War (2006); T. P. Savas, Brady's Civil War Journal (2012).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.