Artifact of the Week: Eyeglass Lenses

ANDE 2111, eyeglass lens
ANDE 2111 FS 32.5, Catalogue # ANDE 4820

These two glass fragments come from the lens of a pair of eyeglasses excavated from within the Andersonville Prison at Andersonville National Historic Site in 2007. The prison, originally officially named Camp Sumter, was established in 1864 to house Union POWs during the Civil War. The prison held more than 45,000 soldiers over the course of 14 months, and more than 13,000 of these soldiers died during their imprisonment. Under such conditions, eyeglasses would have been important for more than simply allowing the wearer to see. The lenses could also be used to start a #fire by focusing the sun’s rays. Along with the lenses, numerous other personal items were found in the same unit, including cast iron and glass buttons.