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  • How we view Lincoln may say more about us than him, says scholar of photo history

    A magazine photo of a 30-something Abraham Lincoln.

    This photo of a 30-something Abraham Lincoln, the earliest portrait of the future president, brought a flood of letters to the magazine that first published it, three decades after his death. Communication professor Cara Finnegan explores their responses, and what they say about how we interpret photos, as part of a new book.

    Photo credit: McClure's magazine


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  • To reach Cara Finnegan, call 217-333-1855; email

    Finnegan’s book, “Making Photography Matter: A Viewer’s History From the Civil War to the Great Depression,” is scheduled for publication in June by the University of Illinois Press.

    An image of the daguerreotype from which the McClure’s photo of Lincoln was printed is the first in a collection of Lincoln photos maintained by the Library of Congress, and available through this link:

    More about Finnegan’s previous work can be found in these previous news releases:

    Civil War photos gave carnage a wide view, but also aided the grieving (with video)

    Inside view of White House online is not what it seems, says professor