The William Tipton sample photograph album contains 121 photographs, originally mounted in an album. For preservation purposes, the photographs were removed from the album and mounted on archival cardstock (34 x 43 cm). Each photograph has been assigned a number corresponding to the original page number. Most pages displayed only one large photograph, but several had multiple smaller images, each of which has been assigned a letter following the page number. In six instances, photographs were originally mounted over other photographs, suggesting that the album was revised over time. Five of these photographs have a large "X" drawn through the image. These images are labeled as "under" + page number. In addition, four loose photographs were tucked between pages, and they are labeled with the page numbers they were between.
The album has a quarter-bound, black leather cover, and the leather spine is missing. The gilt title, though partially illegible, presumambly once read "Photographs, Gettysburg Groups."
The photographs were taken by William H. Tipton on the Gettysburg Battlefield from 1884 to 1889. Some of the pages are stamped with "W.H. Tipton, The Battlefield Photographer, Gettysburg, Pa." The majority of images have captions, either hand-written on the album page or directly on the photographic print, identifying groups and individuals. This album was one of several sample albums showing photographs available for purchase at W.H. Tipton's photo gallery. Original prices are included next to many of the images.
All of the photos in the album are group shots of men, women, and children, ranging from five to over one hundred people. In the majority of images, the men are wearing suits and have ribbons pinned to their chest; however, in some images, the men are dressed in military uniforms. The majority of images are of a particular regiment posing with their unit's monument, often taken at the dedication ceremony. The regiments represented are from many Union states including Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin, with Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York regiments appearing most frequently. Although the majority of the images are of veterans and politicians from the Union side of the Civil War, some images include Confederate veterans. The 25th anniversary of the battle was commemorated with a three day reunion in July, 1888 that featured both Union and Confederate veterans. Photos 53-59B depict this reunion on the battlefield and feature Confederate Generals Wade Hampton and James Longstreet, in addition to Union generals, including Warner Miller, Daniel Butterfield, John Hartranft, Joseph Carr, Henry Slocum, Joshua Chamberlain, and Daniel Sickles. Sickles rests on crutches, as he lost his leg while fighting at Gettysburg.
Many of images were taken in either wooded areas or fields, with farms occasionally noticeable in the background. In photo 71, Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College) and its observatory are visible in the background.
Politicians appearing in photos include President Grover Cleveland and Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks (57A), and Vice President Hannibal Hamlin (85). The photos also depict governors and former governors, including Ebenezer J. Ormsbee (Vermont), Elihu E. Jackson (Maryland), Joshua L. Chamberlain (Maine), Joseph R. Bodwell (Maine), James A. Beaver (Pennsylvania), Robert E. Pattison (Pennsylvania), Robert S. Green (New Jersey), Joseph B. Foraker (Ohio), Jeremiah M. Rusk (Wisconsin), Cyrus G. Luce (Michigan), Samuel J. Tilden (New York), John F. Hartranft (Pennsylvania), Wade Hampton (South Carolina), and Lucius Fairchild (Wisconsin). Many of these governors were former generals.
Fraternal organizations are also depicted in the album. Photo 36 is a group shot of the Improved Order of Red Men, specifically the Tonguwa Tribe; members of The Grand Army of the Republic appear in photo 38, and individual members may be present in other images as well.
As there were no African American units or "Colored Troops" at the Battle of Gettysburg, there are very few African Americans appearing in these photos. Photo Under 48 depicts an African American soldier standing next to a group of white soldiers. Photo 46 depicts a group of identified teachers, Native American students, and parents from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The majority of Native Americans in this photo are wearing western clothing, with two men wearing traditional Native American dress.