Genealogy Clues in Civil War-Era Photographs
6/9/2014
Discover your Civil War-era ancestors through their pictures. 
By the time of the Civil War, photographic technology had developed to the point that many families possessed cherished photos of their soldiers and even card photos of famous generals. The shiny, reflective daguerreotype was waning in popularity. Glass ambrotypes were still widely available, but the most fashionable opted for more-durable tintypes (actually printed on iron plates) or cartes de visite paper prints. Itinerant tintype photographers followed Civil War troops, selling the soldiers portraits—their last, perhaps—to mail home with letters. Advertising for a war-era innovation, American-made photo albums, suggested that every soldier should own one.

While the photographic industry flourished in northern states, blockades on southern ports prevented the importation of supplies. The price of photographs fluctuated during the war, with ambrotypes dipping as low as 25 cents and cartes de visite at a dollar.