As part of our partnership with the American Civil War Museum in Richmond and Civil War Monitor, we’re pleased to introduce the next of our “Emerging Scholars,” Kurt Luther. Kurt will be presenting his work at the museum’s Grand Opening May 4.
I grew up in Pittsburgh in a family of history buffs and antiques collectors. I fondly recall many summer trips as a child to Gettysburg and other battlefields. We knew we had several ancestors who fought for Pennsylvania regiments in the Civil War, but a chance encounter with a wartime portrait of one ancestor, Oliver Croxton, sparked my fascination with Civil War photography specifically. I developed my expertise in identifying unknown soldier portraits to try to help others have the same powerful experience I did, looking into the eyes of my great-great-great uncle, 150 years removed. Eventually, I combined my passion for Civil War photography with my day job as a computer scientist to launch Civil War Photo Sleuth, a free website that lets anyone find, add, and identify Civil War soldier portraits.
About Kurt Luther
Dr. Kurt Luther is an assistant professor of computer science and, by courtesy, history at Virginia Tech. His research explores how social technologies can help the public make personal connections to history and authentic contributions to historical scholarship. He is the creator of Civil War Photo Sleuth, a free website that combines crowdsourcing and face recognition technology to identify unknown soldiers in Civil War-era photos. He is also a contributing editor for Military Images magazine, where he has published a column on Civil War photo sleuthing since 2015. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and worked at IBM Research, Microsoft Research, and YouTube/Google. He holds a Ph.D. in human-centered computing from Georgia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics technology from Purdue University.
Join us in Richmond, VA, on May 4 for the Grand Opening of the new American Civil War Museum. If you can’t be there in person, ECW will be broadcasting Facebook LIVE interviews with Sam and the other Emerging Scholars.