|Mrs. George H. Gilbert|
|Vinnie (Hoxey) Ream|
|Mrs. Henry Wager Halleck|
Portraits of Civil War-era women, from a collection of glass-plate negatives in the Library of Congress. Ordinary women seldom appear in this archive of the 1860s. The women who do appear come from opposite poles of the social world. One group would have been rooted in the Establishment of the time, like Mrs. Halleck (immediately above), wife of a staff general in Lincoln's army. Such women were prominent because the males around them were prominent. But the majority of the women in the archive were not prominent political wives or heiresses, but actresses and dancers. They needed photo-portraits for practical, commercial reasons – to spread their reputations and secure bookings.
The two women below were celebrities of a different order. The Brady Handy collection preserves the information that Pauline Cushman and Belle Boyd became photograph-worthy because they were both spies. Pauline Cushman spied for the Union, Belle Boyd for the Confederacy.