Civil War Photo Clues Revisited

Civil War Photo Clues Revisited

Last week's mystery photo featured a mother and daughter. Winston Cochrane owns the image and wanted to know if it depicts the daughter's wedding. I tentatively dated the image to circa 1868 until more details became available. The back of a card photo can reveal other facts. The presence of...

Last week’s mystery photo featured a mother and daughter. Winston Cochrane owns the image and wanted to know if it depicts the daughter’s wedding.

I tentatively dated the image to circa 1868 until more details became available. The back of a card photo can reveal other facts. The presence of a revenue stamp indicates a specific time frame of Aug. 1, 1864, to Aug. 1, 1866. A photographer’s name and address can be researched in city directories, census records and online. A caption can confirm or refute the supposed identity of the sitter.

Here’s the back of this image:

A quick search of the Louisville City Directories on Ancestry.com confirms Winston’s details about the photographer. Samuel Jennings operated a studio from circa 1864 to 1866.

He ran an advertisement in the 1864 Louisville Directory on page 132:

Kentucky was a border state during the war and eventually sided with the Union. The lack of a revenue stamp on this image is puzzling. Jennings was in business throughout the years when those tax stamps were used, so the image was taken prior to August 1864 or after August 1866.

A comment on last week’s post suggested a circa 1865 date based on the width of the hoop and the style of the sleeve. The frogging on the bodice also was popular during the Civil War.

The lack of the stamp suggests it was taken after August 1866. If Mary Meaux and daughter Nannie posed in late 1866, then the daughter would be 17.

A date for this image answers Winston’s question about whether it was taken at her wedding in 1870.

You can learn more about Civil War photographs in my book, Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.


Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now
  • Related Products

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