Colorized Photo of Abraham Lincoln Breathes New Life Into History

The colorization of black-and-white imagery has developed a bad stigma over the years, because more often than not, it damages the integrity of the original product. At some point or another, we have all seen a film from the 1930’s or 40’s and a laughably bad color-transfer that makes our eyes want to bleed. My first introduction to colorization came when I was very little, and happened upon a VHS of John Wayne’s The Sands of Iwo Jima, and even as a ten-year old I recognized it to be so horrendous that I had to shut it off. Since then, I have never given any of these changes much credence, until I happened upon this wonderful colorization of the last photograph ever taken of Abraham Lincoln, as he sat for Alexander Gardner in his studio less than a week before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. We can thank the website “Shorpy” for this rendition that will hopefully lead to others:

I had never quite thought about it before, how something as small as this could lead to an entire new way of teaching. Not by way of changing lesson plans or anything like that, but the aid it would provide to teachers visually, whose students are lost after staring at old, grainy black-and-white images for months at a time. While I do agree that B & W can bring out shadows, contrast, and objectivity a hundred times better than color, the mindset of that kind of photography as an art-form would hold no bearing with the majority of middle or high school students. But, all of a sudden, you show them this picture of Lincoln above, and it opens new doors—it actually makes the history more accessible and understandable, and even for us adult history buffs, it just proves to be something really cool!

Various shows and mediums over the years have tried to accomplish such, examples being World War I in Color, which proved to be a disaster in my eyes, because the colors were flat-out ridiculous, and the latest, Death Masks, from the History Channel, did a decent job in bringing figures such as Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, and others, to life, because their heads were made with 3D graphics that allowed for blinking and facial movement. But for an aid to a lesson, nothing can really top this. I suppose colorizing one still-image is much different than doing it for a movie, with the colors having to mesh and blend with each cell. I truly hope that the creators of this picture will transfer more, maybe even some of the aftermath on Civil War battlefields (anyone else want to see the famous Gettysburg sniper photo done up in color?) to really bring the past alive for all!


17 thoughts on “Colorized Photo of Abraham Lincoln Breathes New Life Into History

      1. Gettysbuff

        …And i apologize for my part, Greg (although it was not politically motivated). I just can’t stand people like that! Whatever one’s feelings are on Lincoln, you gotta admit what he said was pretty sick…he was still a human being and nobody deserves to be murdered like that.

    1. Sorry to hear you say that, Jeff. You have been a valuable poster here over the last year.

      I’m all for civilized debate and conversation, but this became very heated in an article that really had no cause for debate or argument. It was to simply show off a picture.

      If you do indeed never post here again, I wish you well.

      1. Gettysbuff

        Forgive me, Greg, you’re obviously quite the gentlemen – as i’ve said before – but why are you extended such sympathy towards this nutjob? And if you think nutjob is being a bit strong, i invite you to remember exactly what he said about Lincoln in the comment you deleted (which was horrible and an extreme case of bad taste for those of you reading who didn’t see it). Also, you can see what he has said above so that needs no explanation. I think in this instance you’re being TOO kind, Greg. Why should you want readers of your blog to be offended by somebody like that? I’m glad he’s gone, because i would be put off from posting myself if i had to read his sick and twisted comments ever again! Would you then extend the same sympathies to me if i decided to leave? I sure hope so, because i myself have NEVER behaved like he did. As you know i am quite opinionated (isn’t everyone?), but at least my past posts have been relevant and not certainly not offensive. I hope you see my point. Thank you.

      2. I extend the same sympathies to ALL those who post here regularly, yourself included. I hate to see anyone leave, for any reason, especially since they have been a reader/responder for more than a year.

        I see your point and why you are offended by what he said, but the offensive comments have been removed. You have a right to be offended or annoyed or whatever. No more offensive comments will be allowed to be posted, by anyone, from here on out (that means not calling anyone a nutjob or d-bag, or saying someone should go to or be in hell).

        I’m allowing his one above to remain because then my response to him would be removed with it.


  1. Pingback: Incredible Picture of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln « From New York to San Francisco

  2. This is a man who buried beloved sons, who watched in horror as his beloved wife tumbled into a grief-stricken madness and tried to the best of his ability to be the president of a young country torn apart and viciously fighting a Civil War. I absolutely love this colorized photo of our 16th President! It brings him to life in a way I never imagined.

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