I’m deep into research and writing for Family Tree Magazine‘s forthcoming new book on Life in Civil War America.
I’m busy working on the Afterword on Civil War photography. I love having a project I can immerse myself in.
Last week The Genealogy Insider wrote a post about the “hand-in-jacket” pose favored by so many military men.
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not your Civil War soldier posed for a picture, then here’s a statistic for you: According to the 1860 census, there were at least 1,500 individuals who operated as photographers just prior to the war. This number only includes those who claimed it as their primary business and doesn’t include individuals who had side businesses snapping pictures. That’s a lot of photographers.
Private Frank A. Remington and two other unidentified Union soldiers
According to William C. Davis, editor of Touched By Fire: A National Historical Society Photographic Portrait of the Civil War (Black Dog & Levanthal Publishers, available used), these photographers took an estimated one million pictures, but only several thousand still exist.
Maybe my Civil War ancestor really did take time to pose for a picture—many soldiers did. I feel inspired to look. Right now, all I have is a pension file description of a man with red (!) hair and blue eyes. No 20th century family member has or had that color hair. I’m intrigued.
So here’s how I’m going to look:
- Check with relatives
- Post a query online (haven’t decided where yet)
- Search reunion site such as DeadFred.com and AncientFaces.com
- Try searching the United States Army Heritage & Education Center. It has thousands of images and an online database. Not everything is online, but it’s worth a look. Since I think it’s unlikely I’ll find an identified photo, I’ll also try searching for the companies in which my ancestor served.
- Contact local and state historical societies to see if they have relevant images. I know that to search these collections might require hiring a researcher. If so, I’ll find a local researcher using the Association of Professional Genealogists.
The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs division has a lot of Civil War images. Look in their catalog, but also check the American Memory project. CivilWarPhotos.net has searchable database of 1,200 photos. A good resource for information on Civil War photography is the non-profit Center for Civil War Photography.
If you have a picture of a Civil War soldier in uniform, e-mail it to me. I’d love to see it. Please use “Civil War photo” in the subject line.
Now you can pre-order Family Tree Magazine‘s 2011 Civil War Desk Calendar, which features historical photos of people and scenes from the war, plus facts about the era from Life in Civil War America.