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Alive with History

Programs Offered:

Alexander Gardner and Photographing the Civil War

tells the story of Alexander Gardner, a pivotal figure in the history of photography and the US during and after the Civil War. After learning photography in Scotland, Gardner immigrated to the United States where he initially worked with Mathew Brady. By the end of the Civil War, he was recognized as one of the preeminent photographers of the time. Many of Gardner’s photos are presented in stereo allowing the viewer to see the image in depth as it would be seen as if the viewer was at the location and time of the recording of the image.


Civil War Battlefields

Photos were taken at only 7 of the Civil War battlefields. Gardner was the leader in 3 of those and his team worked on many more.

Gardner and Abraham Lincoln

Alex took more photos of President Lincoln than any other photographer. He also captured photos at the hanging of the conspirators after Lincoln’s assassination and the hanging.


Railroad Surveys and Views of Indians

Gardener was hired to procure publicity for the Kansas Pacific Railroad through photos of the land over which the railroad was being developed. He also took photographs of Indian visitors to Washington and in the field during the Railroad photos and as a representative at the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

Development of Photography

Learn about the changes in presenting images from Paintings, drawings and lithographs to “modern photographs”. Examples will illustrate daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, CdVs, and stereo images. Discussion will include the process of capturing early photos; tintypes, albumen prints, ambrotypes, preservation, and display with a special emphasis on the ephemeral nature of the images themselves A photograph with no information about it is as lost to history as one that has been discarded or destroyed. Many stories can be told about these.


Photo Journalism and the Development of Photo Ethics

Published pictures during the Civil War were reproduced as direct photo prints. The introduction of actual photos increased the possibility for transfer of detailed images but the way to utilize these and the ethics of recording them and claiming ownership were only being defined. Gardner introduced the first photo Journalism in his “Sketchbook of the Civil War”.


3-D Imaging and How to Record Stereo Views Workshop

We have two eyes so that we can see the world as it really is in all of its depth and detail. Come learn how this is done. The methodology for capturing and printing 3-dimensional images will be described, demonstrated, and instructions provided for making your own real life pictures.
Class consists of presentations, discussion, and then students taking pictures for processing.

You will learn:
   •   The history of stereo photography
   •   How to capture images with your own camera that can be presented as 3-D photos
   •   How to convert your photographs into a 3-D image

Discussions will be followed by:
   •   2 hours outside capturing images
   •   4 hours (as needed) to process images
   •   Students supply camera
   •   all other equipment including computer, printer, and projector will be provided.

You will return home with viewing glasses AND your own red/blue “anaglyph 3-D” picture.


(as of Spring 2018 - rates subject to change) 


•   All presentations (except the workshop) are approximately one hour long.

•   Fees are $200 per presentation.

•   Fee for 'Pictures for 2 Eyes Workshop'
•   $175 per participant.

•   Travel expenses additional, including mileage over 100 miles, meals and housing if over 1 day.

The Instructor



Doug McGovern, photographer, teacher, and engineer. Presentations are supported with vintage and modern recreations of the cameras, stereoscopes, and stereo pictures from the early days of photography and the photo documentation of the Civil War.

About the Presenter: 

Alive With History is the product of Doug McGovern. He is a photographer, teacher, engineer and historical performer. After retiring from a career in engineering management in 1997, Doug has been able to develop his love of the past initially working on stereo photography. He became interested in stereo vision while developing remotely driven vehicles as an engineer. Stereo television installed in the robotic vehicle allowed the driver to proceed safely around ditches and holes. When Doug had the opportunity to follow the footsteps of his Great Great Grandfather through action in the Civil War (Samuel Cowan, 17th Illinois Volunteer Infantry), he realized that stereo photography, when applied to battlefield scenes, let the viewer "see" the terrain as real. Roads, hills, and trenches stand out. Also, stereo photos of people and action scenes provide a realism that grabs the viewer in a way that regular photos cannot. This inspired Doug to start a company called "Vintage Visuals" to produce and distribute stereo pictures. Of course, the history of these pictures needed to be researched. To understand the times, the techniques, and the talents, Alexander Gardner became a worthy tutor. It was but a short step to then become Alex through developing a historical performance. 

Doug is active in other historical activities including working with local preservation efforts, membership in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, reenacting with the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry (as a civilian photographer), and membership in a Victorian Dance performance group.


For more information please see the the Alive with History website: 


Contact information:

Alive With History
Doug McGovern 
1707 N Limestone Ln. 
Wichita, KS 67230
(316) 927-2804


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