Aired: April 5, 2014

Viva Voce and Civil War Selfies


Today when we vote, we enter a private space, secretly make our choice, and go about our day. Don Debats (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow) explains that early voting wasn’t just public; it was a raucous, drunken community festival. Plus: It’s hard to find a smile in a 19th century photograph—instead, you’ll see stern faces and stiff poses. Historian Richard Straw (Radford University) tells the story of one early photographer who broke the formal rules and took candid shots instead.

Later in the show: During the Civil War, the residents of Winchester witnessed some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict—for control of the Shenandoah Valley—and suffered under Union occupation. Jonathan Noyalas (Lord Fairfax Community College) tells how the return of Union veterans to the Valley in 1883 sparked a spirit of reconciliation between former enemies. Also: Spencer Crew (George Mason University) looks back at the “Underground Railroad” and makes a connection to activism in the modern world. And James Robertson (Virginia Tech) lists many modern conveniences that have their origin in the Civil War.

  • Viva Voce and Civil War Selfies – web extra

    3 Silly LadiesBrowse a gallery of some of Michael Miley’s amusing photos.


  • Civil War Selfies feature

    A Facebook selfie or Instagrammed lunch is a far cry from what used to be required to take a picture.  With expensive, slow technology, most photos in the 1800s were solemn affairs.  Allison Quantz has the story of one early photographer whose surprising pictures might fit better in the world of the camera phone than the tintype.


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