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Civil War Photos
Tell a Story


  • Social Sciences
  • Arts & Humanities


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Students select a photograph from the Civil War era and write a story that tells about the photograph.


Students think critically about the composition of a photograph taken by Matthew Brady, the famous Civil War photographer. They use a graphic organizer to analyze the photo and create a news story based on their observations.


Civil War, photograph, newspaper, critical thinking, observation

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

This lesson, available online from the Library of Congress at The Matthew Brady Bunch Web site, explores the life and work of Matthew Brady and his crew of photographers. Together, they captured more than 1,000 images of the Civil War. Students select a photo from the collection and use the graphic organizer work sheet that accompanies this lesson to make objective and subjective observations about the photo. (If the entire class does not have Internet access, the teacher might print out a variety of photos before the lesson and allow students to select one to write about.) They combine their observations with their knowledge of the Civil War and other deductions they can make about the photo to create a news story based on the photograph. The lesson includes tips for writing a good news story.


Assessment is included with the lesson.

Lesson Plan Source

Library of Congress

Submitted By

Adapted from an idea from Houghton Mifflin Company (1995)

National Standards

Social Sciences:

Language Arts: