Home Contact Bookmark
Slideshare YouTube Twitter Flickr Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scandal of Eicher's "Gettysburg Battlefield" Print E-mail

The Scandal of David J. Eicher's

Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History
(Chronicle Books 2003)


Table of Contents



Overview: An Illegitimate Work


Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History
, by David J. Eicher (Chronicle Books, 2003), with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. James M. McPherson, is a 296-page, coffee table-sized book that was billed as one of the major Civil War books of 2003.


Instead, Eicher's book became hopelessly mired in a photo-piracy scandal that eventually led to McPherson's repudiation of the book, which features his name prominently on the cover.

Before the book's release, author William A. Frassanito discovered that Eicher had scanned at least 42 of the 164 historical photographs in Gettysburg Battlefield directly from the pages of his two Gettysburg books and falsely credited them to other sources.

When Frassanito blew the whistle, Eicher (whose day job is editor of Astronomy magazine) admitted that he had scanned many photographs from Frassanito's two landmark works, Gettysburg, A Journey in Time (1975, Thomas Publications) and Early Photography at Gettysburg (1995, Thomas Publications) for his own field study work Eicher said he "could have inadvertently placed the wrong digital images" on the disk he sent to Chronicle.

Eicher claimed to have legitimate prints for all the historical photos in his book, but when Chronicle demanded an accounting, Chronicle conceded that Eicher was unable to produce a legitimate source for nine of the images in question. Still, Chronicle released the book, claiming that Eicher had done nothing illegal. And now, in the December 2003 issue of Civil War Times Illustrated, Eicher states: ". . .no admission by this author of duplication of prior works has ever occurred."

In fact, the duplication was so obvious and egregious, Gettysburg's most important Civil War bookstores refuse to handle Eicher's book, including the National Park Service bookstores and Greystone's American History store. The Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, which had been offering the book, is no longer doing so and has returned their remaining copies to the publisher. And at least one of the guest essayists in the book, Wayne Motts, also wrote Chronicle requesting that his work be removed from any future printings.

In addition, the Adams County (Pa.) Historical Society protested Eicher's misuse of one of its photos, which he published without obtaining an ACHS copy print, without obtaining permission, and without paying its user fee. Mr. Eicher disingenuously tried to patch things up after the fact not by asking for permission, but by sending a "donation" that equaled the user fee; his inappropriate gesture was rejected. Moreover, the ACHS flatly notified Eicher of their own finding that the photo in question had been scanned from a Frassanito book. Eicher never responded.

The purpose of these pages is to expose exactly what Eicher did, to publish the findings of Frassanito's meticulous forensic investigation, to repudiate Eicher's unethical and unprofessional behavior, and to show readers the proper way to obtain and use Civil War photographs. We also reveal the world's best source for thousands of reproduction-quality Civil War photographs.

Return to Table of Contents


Dr. James M. McPherson's Letter to Chronicle Books


Dr. James M. McPherson's Letter to Chronicle Books Dr. James M. McPherson's Letter to Chronicle Books
Return to Table of Contents


Dr. James M. McPherson's Letter to CCWP President Bob Zeller


Dr. James M. McPherson's Letter to CCWP President Bob Zeller Dr. James M. McPherson's Letter to CCWP President Bob Zeller
Return to Table of Contents


A Critical Analysis by William A. Frassanito

William A. Frassanito's Critical Analysis of David J. Eicher¹s
Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History
(Chronicle Books, 2003)

This critical analysis of David J. Eicher's Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History will focus primarily on what is arguably the backbone of his "definitive illustrated history," namely his photographic presentation, and especially on the magnitude to which that presentation and its supportive captions were based upon my two pioneering studies, Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (Scribner, 1975; Thomas reprint, 1996) and Early Photography at Gettysburg (Thomas, 1995).

My review of Gettysburg Battlefield quickly evolved into a laborious forensic investigation once I began to come across the first of literally dozens of historical photographs that Mr. Eicher secured not from the sources he credited, but instead by scanning them -- without my knowledge and without my permission -- from the copyright-protected pages of my books. Thus far I can prove with absolute certainty that at least 36 of the historical photos in Gettysburg Battlefield were scanned from my photo prints (most custom-made) as they appear in Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (18) and Early Photography at Gettysburg (18), with six more probables, making a total of at least 42, or fully 25% of the historical Gettysburg photographs in Mr. Eicher¹s book. (I suspect that the actual count is substantially higher.)

For example, the fact that his photo of Little Round Top on pp. 166-167 of Gettysburg Battlefield was scanned from pg. 308 of my Early Photography at Gettysburg is evidenced by the series of telltale, parallel vertical streaks (denoting the lines of text from my reverse pg. 307) which appear across the sky in his reproduction. In a number of instances, Mr. Eicher scanned photos from my books that I had copied from rare originals in private collections. Not knowing how to credit these images without revealing his true source, he arbitrarily assigned them to government collections, obviously never checking to see whether these collections actually had the images (they don't). He was likewise completely unaware of the fact that many of the photos he was scanning contain obscure but distinguishing characteristics that are unique to my custom prints.

Apprised of my irrefutable findings, Mr. Eicher's publisher, Chronicle Books, recently informed me that "Dave Eicher acknowledges that he included images from your book in his." But according to Chronicle, this was perfectly legal because "All historical images of the Civil War are in the public domain, and are in the public domain regardless of the source." Incredible! But whatever the legal technicalities may be, I consider all of the dozens of photos in Gettysburg Battlefield that were surreptitiously reproduced from the pages of my copyrighted books to be the equivalent of stolen property, especially given the enormous effort and expense that I devoted to securing all of those images legitimately.

A well-known hallmark of my published studies are their original then & now pairs, with my two books containing a total of more than 150 pairs, many of which took literally years of original research to produce. Of the 89 then & now pairs in Mr. Eicher's book, fully 94% (84/89) are simply duplications (or at least attempted duplications) of what he found in my Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (61) and Early Photography at Gettysburg (23). Employing my books as his trusty and easy-to-follow guides, it took him all of three days (6/8/97, 8-21 & 22/00) to conduct his systematic and wholesale duplication of my many years of work. Ironically, of the only five then & now pairs actually original to Mr. Eicher's book, all five are flawed.

In his preface, Mr. Eicher boasts that his "captions provide a great amount of information on the historic images that early photographers created...." If Mr. Eicher had been as meticulous about citing my two books as his sources of photo-related information as he was obsessive about crediting himself for each and every individual modern photo (see pg. 296), he could easily have included well over 100 footnotes to Gettysburg: A Journey in Time and Early Photography at Gettysburg in his captions. Instead, his historical photo presentation doesn¹t include any footnotes, unlike his fairly routine battle narrative, which includes some 140 (many of which were unnecessary).

Despite the sheer magnitude of Mr. Eicher's reliance on my two original studies for the production of his historical photo presentation, nowhere throughout his entire book is either Gettysburg: A Journey in Time or Early Photography at Gettysburg
ever mentioned as the source for a single historical photograph, a single then & now pair, a single caption, a single photographer attribution, or a single date. Clearly Mr. Eicher wanted the names of my two books -- his "bibles" -- and the crucial roles they played, to remain as obscure as possible (while at times mentioning my name with praise, typically as either a generic source of inspiration, or as the generic source for an occasional fact), thereby leaving the unsuspecting reader with the erroneous impression that the historical photo presentation in Gettysburg Battlefield is primarily his work, and essentially original to his book.

I must also call attention to the misleading title of Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History, for there is nothing about Mr. Eicher's book that can claim to be "The Definitive" anything. The photo presentation itself is riddled with factual errors, especially when Mr. Eicher is on his own. The most bizarre example of the latter is his reproduction of a May 1864 photo of Fredericksburg, Va., to illustrate the Railroad Cut at Gettysburg (pg. 47). Almost 20 of the photos he has dated from 1861-1865 are actually postwar, several as late as the 1880s, and one as late as the 1890s. He even displays a remarkable ignorance concerning a number of historical photos he correctly identifies as postwar, but otherwise misdates. For example, he seems clueless about the well-known background behind William Tipton's famous series taken in the spring of 1882 for the cyclorama of Pickett's Charge, Mr. Eicher being unsure about the identity of the photographer, not mentioning why the photos were taken, and dating the two examples he reproduces as "ca. 1870s" (pg. 224).

A key claim made by Mr. Eicher in his preface is that "In compiling the photographs for the book, I have attempted to include all historical images of the Gettysburg battlefield made during the Civil War years themselves, 1861-1865." Apparently this unfinished statement was intended to mislead the reader into believing that his book contains virtually all of the early photos recorded at Gettysburg. Of the at least 40 photographic scenes taken at Gettysburg from 1861-1865 that Mr. Eicher failed to include (most of which have been published in my several studies, listed below), I can convincingly establish that Mr. Eicher never even "attempted" to include most of them. And, as those individuals who are familiar with my studies will notice, Mr. Eicher¹s historical photo presentation doesn't include a single new discovery of significance. The only truly definitive presentation on the early photographic coverage of the Gettysburg battlefield remains the multi-volume series comprised of Gettysburg: A Journey in Time and Early Photography at Gettysburg, supplemented by two magazine-format publications, Gettysburg Then & Now (Thomas, 1996) and The Gettysburg Then & Now Companion (Thomas, 1997).

Although quality-control issues likewise abound in Mr. Eicher's book, such as the presence of a surprising number of blurry historical photos and the reproduction of numerous photos in an almost postage-stamp-sized format, etc., etc., it is the manner in which his historical photo presentation was put together that should be of alarming concern to all serious students of the Civil War. Certainly the unacknowledged, systematic, and wholesale duplication of someone else's original work, and the portrayal of that work as if original to the duplicator; the clandestine acquisition of photographs from copyrighted publications; and the deceptive manipulation of photo credits, are all disreputable practices that should be condemned.

Return to Table of Contents


Case Study #1: Telltale Spots


A key Alexander Gardner Civil War photograph published in William A. Frassanito's Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (Scribners, 1975; reprint by Thomas Publications) shows John Burns with officers of the 50th Pennsylvania Regiment. To reproduce the image in his book, Frassanito purchased a copy negative from the Library of Congress, which owns the original negative, and made this small contact print for use on his own personal Index card. Note the large white spot on the tree trunk on the left. It is unique to this print. A key Alexander Gardner Civil War photograph published in William A. Frassanito's Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (Scribners, 1975; reprint by Thomas Publications) shows John Burns with officers of the 50th Pennsylvania Regiment. To reproduce the image in his book, Frassanito purchased a copy negative from the Library of Congress, which owns the original negative, and made this small contact print for use on his own personal Index card. Note the large white spot on the tree trunk on the left. It is unique to this print.
Frassanito's Index Card for a Distinctive Gettysburg Photograph
A key Alexander Gardner Civil War photograph published in William A. Frassanito's Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (Scribners, 1975; reprint by Thomas Publications) shows John Burns with officers of the 50th Pennsylvania Regiment. To reproduce the image in his book, Frassanito purchased a copy negative from the Library of Congress, which owns the original negative, and made this small contact print for use on his own personal Index card. Note the large white spot on the tree trunk on the left. It is unique to this print.

Frassanito made a separate, custom print off his copy negative to send to his publisher. Above is a reproduction of that print. Note that the large spot on the left tree trunk does not exist in this print. However, there is a smaller but obvious spot in the right center of the photograph slightly to the left of the upraised flag. There are other even smaller spots and streaks as well. Frassanito made a separate, custom print off his copy negative to send to his publisher. Above is a reproduction of that print. Note that the large spot on the left tree trunk does not exist in this print. However, there is a smaller but obvious spot in the right center of the photograph slightly to the left of the upraised flag. There are other even smaller spots and streaks as well.
Frassanito's Custom Print
Frassanito made a separate, custom print off his copy negative to send to his publisher. Above is a reproduction of that print. Note that the large spot on the left tree trunk does not exist in this print. However, there is a smaller but obvious spot in the right center of the photograph slightly to the left of the upraised flag. There are other even smaller spots and streaks as well.

This is how Frassanito's print appears on page 122 of Gettysburg: A Journey in Time. Note that the spot at the right center that is unique to Frassanito's custom print is readily apparent in his book. No other print of this photograph has this spot. This is how Frassanito's print appears on page 122 of Gettysburg: A Journey in Time. Note that the spot at the right center that is unique to Frassanito's custom print is readily apparent in his book. No other print of this photograph has this spot.
Frassanito's Book
This is how Frassanito's print appears on page 122 of Gettysburg: A Journey in Time. Note that the spot at the right center that is unique to Frassanito's custom print is readily apparent in his book. No other print of this photograph has this spot.

Here is how the John Burns photo appeared on page 272 of David J. Eicher's Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History (Chronicle Books, 2003). Note that the telltale spot on Frassanito's custom print appears in Eicher's reproduction, which he falsely credited to the Library of Congress. This spot proves that Eicher used Frassanito's image, without permission or proper credit. Frassanito has uncovered 41 other historical photos in Eicher's book that were scanned from his books. Here is how the John Burns photo appeared on page 272 of David J. Eicher's Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History (Chronicle Books, 2003). Note that the telltale spot on Frassanito's custom print appears in Eicher's reproduction, which he falsely credited to the Library of Congress. This spot proves that Eicher used Frassanito's image, without permission or proper credit. Frassanito has uncovered 41 other historical photos in Eicher's book that were scanned from his books.
Eicher's Book
Here is how the John Burns photo appeared on page 272 of David J. Eicher's Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History (Chronicle Books, 2003). Note that the telltale spot on Frassanito's custom print appears in Eicher's reproduction, which he falsely credited to the Library of Congress. This spot proves that Eicher used Frassanito's image, without permission or proper credit. Frassanito has uncovered 41 other historical photos in Eicher's book that were scanned from his books.

Return to Table of Contents


Case Study #2: A Potential Copyright Violation


Above is a reproduction of a copy print in Frassanito's collection of a vintage 1863 albumen print by Frederick Gutekunst, now in the collection of the Gettysburg National Military Park, that shows Chambersburg Pike less than two weeks after the battle. Above is a reproduction of a copy print in Frassanito's collection of a vintage 1863 albumen print by Frederick Gutekunst, now in the collection of the Gettysburg National Military Park, that shows Chambersburg Pike less than two weeks after the battle.
A Frederick Gutekunst Image
Above is a reproduction of a copy print in Frassanito's collection of a vintage 1863 albumen print by Frederick Gutekunst, now in the collection of the Gettysburg National Military Park, that shows Chambersburg Pike less than two weeks after the battle.

Through original thinking (the foundation of copyright law), William A. Frassanito identified and presented a 'picture within the picture' of the Gutekunst image featured it in Early Photography at Gettysburg (Thomas Publications, 1995). The famous railroad cut, a key geographic element of the first day's battle, becomes prominent in the detail of the photo, as identified and highlighted by Frassanito. In effect, Frassanito produced a new and original composition that is distinctly different from the composition of the vintage print, thereby highlighting features that the photographer may never have intended to highlight. This is how it appeared in Early Photography at Gettysburg. Through original thinking (the foundation of copyright law), William A. Frassanito identified and presented a 'picture within the picture' of the Gutekunst image featured it in Early Photography at Gettysburg (Thomas Publications, 1995). The famous railroad cut, a key geographic element of the first day's battle, becomes prominent in the detail of the photo, as identified and highlighted by Frassanito. In effect, Frassanito produced a new and original composition that is distinctly different from the composition of the vintage print, thereby highlighting features that the photographer may never have intended to highlight. This is how it appeared in Early Photography at Gettysburg.
How Frassanito Used the Gutekunst image in "Early Photography at Gettysburg"
Through original thinking (the foundation of copyright law), William A. Frassanito identified and presented a 'picture within the picture' of the Gutekunst image featured it in Early Photography at Gettysburg (Thomas Publications, 1995). The famous railroad cut, a key geographic element of the first day's battle, becomes prominent in the detail of the photo, as identified and highlighted by Frassanito. In effect, Frassanito produced a new and original composition that is distinctly different from the composition of the vintage print, thereby highlighting features that the photographer may never have intended to highlight. This is how it appeared in Early Photography at Gettysburg.

Eicher did not use the full Gutekunst print. Instead, he helped himself to Frassanito's original work, using the same detail that Frassanito used in Early Photography at Gettysburg. In this instance, Eicher's slavish scanning of Frassanito's print, without permission or credit, is especially vulnerable to the challenge of law. Eicher did not use the full Gutekunst print. Instead, he helped himself to Frassanito's original work, using the same detail that Frassanito used in Early Photography at Gettysburg. In this instance, Eicher's slavish scanning of Frassanito's print, without permission or credit, is especially vulnerable to the challenge of law.
Eicher Used Frassanito's Detail, Not GNMP Print
Eicher did not use the full Gutekunst print. Instead, he helped himself to Frassanito's original work, using the same detail that Frassanito used in Early Photography at Gettysburg. In this instance, Eicher's slavish scanning of Frassanito's print, without permission or credit, is especially vulnerable to the challenge of law.

Return to Table of Contents


Civil War Photographs: Their Proper Use


All Civil War photographs are in the public domain, which means that no copyrights remain in effect for any of the images. But the canons of original research and the ethics of scholarship demand that authors, photo editors or publishers who intend to publish Civil War photographs in books, periodicals, newspapers or on the Internet secure their reproductions from a legitimate source, obtain permission from that source if necessary or appropriate, properly credit the actual source for the image and pay any user fees if the institution or collector requires a fee. Authors and photo editors should strive to obtain the best possible reproduction of the original image.

It is generally not appropriate to reproduce Civil War images scanned from other books or magazines. The poor quality of such multi-generation reproductions misrepresents and degrades the superb clarity attained by Civil War photographers with their large glass plate negatives. It is unethical and wholly inappropriate to scan images from a book and falsely credit them to another source, such as the Library of Congress. If the author feels he must use a Civil War photograph scanned from another book, he must credit the book as the source and, if possible, obtain permission from the author or publisher. As an example, authors and publishers have occasionally used obscure and otherwise-unavailable images that appear in the 10-volume Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War, which was published in 1911. While there is no one to obtain permission from and the volumes are now in the public domain, any reproduction should be credited to Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War.

- Bob Zeller

Return to Table of Contents


The Best Source for Free, Reproduction-Quality Civil War Images


The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/


In 2001, the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress began a comprehensive program to make low-resolution and high-resolution digital scans of all of the Civil War photographic negatives in its vast collection. Most of that work is complete and now accessible to the general public. More than 12,000 Civil and early post-war negatives that were previously unavailable on the Internet are now available for instant download. Patrons no longer have to go through the library's photoduplication service or pay fees for copy negatives or prints.

Since all Civil War photographs are in the public domain and open to free use, no permission is required to reproduce, publish, market, or use any of these thousands of images. Proper Credit is all that is required. The Library of Congress requests the following credit line:


Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

[reproduction number, e.g., LC-B811-650].


Some Handy Links:
Search engine for 7,000 Civil War Photographs:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/cwpquery.html

Information about the Library of Congress Collections:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/cwphtml/cwpabt.html


Overview of the Major Civil War Photograph Collections:

LC-B811 series.
About 3,000 cut stereoscopic or half-stereo negatives mostly taken in the field.. Index nos. LC B811-0001 through LC B811-1292 are primarily negatives produced by Gardner's Gallery. (Many 1861-62 images were originally issued by Brady's Album Gallery). Index nos. LC B811-2282 through LC B811-4037 are primarily negatives produced by the E. & H. T. Anthony Co. as part of the War for the Union stereoscopic view series.

LC-B813 series.

About 3,000 Civil War negatives, primarily studio portraits.

LC-B815 series.

670 full, uncut stereoscopic negatives taken in the field by Gardner's Gallery. (Includes 1861-62 images originally by Brady's Album Gallery).

LC-B817 series.

758 large-plate, single-lens negatives taken in the field by Gardner's Gallery. (Includes 1861-62 images originally by Brady's Album Gallery).

LC-B8156 series.
Forty-four large plate negatives taken in South Carolina by the photographers Haas and Peale.

Brady-Handy Collection. LC-BH82 series.

About 5,000 glass negatives, chiefly portraits (many of military officers), circa 1860-1875, by Mathew Brady and Levin C. Handy studios.

Return to Table of Contents

 



Note that some of the files on this site will require Adobe Reader and/or Adobe Flash. These programs may be downloaded for free directly from Adobe.com by choosing the appropriate links above.