About the Author

While other kids in his Middlesex, New Jersey, neighborhood were collecting baseball cards, 14-year-old Ron Coddington was browsing flea markets looking for old photographs. Little did he realize after he purchased his first photo in 1977 that collecting historic images would become a lifelong pursuit. He originally collected various formats of vernacular photography dating from the 1840s to the 1890s. Over time, he focused his collection on Civil War era cartes de visite, a paper format popular during the 1860s.

From 2001-2016, he authored Faces of War, a regular column in the Civil War News. Each month, Ron profiled a soldier, and each was illustrated with an original, wartime carte de visite photograph. His subjects were enlisted men and non-commissioned officers, and officers below the rank of colonel. Ron believes that appreciating the role of the volunteer soldier is key to understanding America’s greatest conflict. He writes, “The history of the Civil War is the stories of its soldiers and sailors.”

In 2004, a collection of columns became part of Ron’s first book, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories. A companion volume, Faces of the Confederacy: An Album of Southern Soldiers and Their Stories, followed in 2008. Four years later, the publication of African American Faces of War: An Album marked the third book in the series. A fourth volume, Faces of the Civil War Navies: An Album of Union and Confederate Sailors, was released in 2016. All are published by The Johns Hopkins University Press. His next volume will profile the lives and contributions of nurses and other caregivers.

Ron also wrote for the New York Times Disunion series from 2011-2014. His contributions documented the experiences of the enlisted men and line officers who participated in the Civil War.

In 2013, he became editor and publisher of Military Images, a quarterly magazine dedicated to showcasing, interpreting and preserving early American photographs of soldiers and sailors.

Ron has participated as a speaker at numerous Civil War-related events, and at meetings for round tables and other organizations.

A 1985 graduate of the University of Georgia, Ron lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Anne, and pug Bella. He is currently Editor, Visuals, for The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

3 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Dear Ronald Coddington,

    This is a wonderful, clear picture of my great grandfather Richard STArr Dana and his brother William Starr Dana, I would love to know where you found it. Was it in a library, by any chance?

    An anthropologist friend who is a volunteer at the NYPL tried to discover whether they had any material about these Danas, especially photographs, but said there was not, which is surprising because they were NEw Yorkers.

    I would love to find more images of commander Dana and one of his wife, Fanny, the author of How to Know the Wild Flowers and Richard’s sister, Juliette Henrietta Dana Viele. Juliette was married (late) to a General Viele who was a West Point graduate and an engineer. For me, the most interesting thing about them was that they spent two years in Washington where he was, briefly, a congressman. I have her letters from that time period. The Vieles are buried in a fancy tomb at West Point!. His face would not be part of your Faces of War, of course, unless General Viele actually went to war when he was younger. I am wondering how he got to be a general. I have never seen a picture of Juliette or of her husband.

    I am interested in the prolific, gifted African American photographer Van der Zee. He photographed some of the residents in Lenox, Mass, before he went to NYC, where he established his career. In the only catalogue I own about his work there is a beautiful portrait of Richard Starr Dana’s mother in law, Mrs. Turner. She is all in black, sitting in a white wicker chair on her veranda. She gave him his first savings account book when he was a teen ager, according to family legend. He fortunately did not remain in Lenox, but went off and made his name as a photographer in NYC.

    Withe very good wish,

    Juliette Starr Kopper

    • Thanks Juliette. I purchased this portrait from a collector/dealer in New York City and it is a wonderful image! I’ve recently completed his profile, which will appear in my forthcoming book (with this image) about the Union and Confederate navies.


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