Photography was still in its infancy when the Civil War began. Capturing a single image involved staging a camera, the mixing of chemical, the use of fragile glass plates, and other long and intensive processes just to produce a single print. However, the business of photography was growing rapidly, and the war did introduce to the masses something many had not seen before, photojournalism. Photography brought to light the horrors of war, but also the life people lived at that time.
A plethora of photos were taken during the Civil War years. History was written in the images caught of everything from the daily life of common people to the intense aftermath on a battlefield. The question for today’s genealogist is, “Does that photo in your family album come from the civil war?” If so, what does that photo tell you about your ancestor(s)? Finally, if you don’t have a photo from that time period, but you know something about your ancestors from that period of time, how can you find a picture? The answers to these questions are addressed in Finding the Civil War In Your Family Album, by Maureen A. Taylor.
In bringing to light the horrors of war, photography also brought the means to capture an image of loved one during a trying period. Men and women and families often sat for studio shots to create remembrances for each other. Photos not only capture history in the making, and memories for the keeping, but they also create a link to the past.
Civil War period photos can tell a lot about the individuals in them and about their involvement in this critical point of history. Chapter by chapter, this book walks the reader through the process of identifying Civil War aged photos, the process of extracting stories and data from the photos, and finding other photos from the period for the family album. The process of identification involves extracting clues: “a photographer’s work dates, clothing, tax stamps and military dress” and other visual evidence. Fashion can often date and place a photo to a season and even to a general location.
Like many of Taylor’s other books, this one includes a plethora of photographs with captions explaining evidence within the image. In this volume, the photos give excellent examples of Civil War aged images. Taylor is a recognized expert in historical photography. She is known for her ability to study photographs for the historical clues that tell stories about the people and events portrayed in the images. Maureen has been featured many times in print and has even appeared on The View, Martha Stewart Living, and The Today Show. Taylor is an expert at extracting information from and dating old photographs. She is also the author of several books, including:
- Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Care for Your Family Photographs—from Daguerreotypes to Digital Imaging
- Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840–1900
- More Dating Old Photographs 1840–1929
- Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Photos in Your Family
Chapter 2: Photo Albums
Chapter 3: Revenue Stamps
Chapter 4: Women’s Clothing
Chapter 5: Children’s Colthing
Chapter 6: Men’s Clothing
Chapter 7: Mourning Rituals
Chapter 8: Weddings
Chapter 9: Uniforms
Chapter 10: Researching Photographers
Chapter 11: A Gallery of Iconic Civil War Images
Chapter 12: Finding Your Civil War Ancestor’s Photo
List of Illustrations
Find and evaluate your own family’s Civil War photographs with a copy of Finding the Civil War In Your Family Album from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: MT04; Price: $24.50.