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Help historians identify faces in Civil War photos

As human beings, we’re preoccupied with the need to know of where we’ve come from, or the history of well, everything. Just as we now have websites for family historyprehistoric Earth history, or Hollywood scandal history podcasts, there are history websites for wars.

Are you passionate about knowing more of United States history or even more specifically the Civil War? Or have you ever wondered where or how historians gather information to identify individuals from the Civil War?

Well If you are, then you are in luck because there’s a website for that called Civil War Photo Sleuth. Civil War Photo Sleuth’s (CWPS) goal is to rediscover lost names, stories and information from every photo of the American Civil War soldiers and sailors by using technology and community to rediscover the lost tales.

The best part is you get to help historians with your spare time.

What’s the website about?

CWPS brings Civil War photo enthusiasts together with cutting-edge technologies in a joint effort through three interconnected ways: an online photo archive, research tools and an online community.

The CWPS is using modern technology with crowdsourcing to promote historical education, preservation and research. It’s asking users to try and identify faces in long-ago photos, which will help preserve their history.

How does it work?

The Photo Archives encourages owners of photos across all forms of media to add their scans to the archives. The archives are then searchable in one centralized place.

This will link up the Digital Public Library of America with libraries, museums and cultural institutions across the globe. Photos then can be use many different ways.

In the Research Tools area, mystery photos will can be “tagged” with visible clues for identity. The site uses state-of-the-art face recognition software to detect faces and analyze the photos. The photo search can then be filtered based on simple information such as rank.




Crowdsourcing allows for division of small tasks to be completed by independent workers for better results on completed software pass-throughs.

The Online Community will let people ask questions, request help, provide information and make identifications. Users are encouraged to join the CWPS Facebook page to comment and share information.

How can I get involved or support CWPS?

If you’re interested in jumping on board or are simply curious about the processes involved, there are multiple ways of getting involved.

Sign up for free to find ancestors, identify unknown photos or to contribute to the archives using the CWPS community-driven site, software and research tools. You can also like the Facebook page for the latest updates on their custom sleuthing software.

Civil War Photo Sleuth is accepting donations through Virginia Tech, where the CWPS team is based. App background

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