When I was working on my book Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album, I spent a lot of time looking for all sorts of clothing examples.
As one of the photo shows, I found this picture of a man wearing what looks like blue jeans. Today jeans are an American export, possibly our most popular clothing style overseas.
The ancestor of the jeans we wear today dates back to 1873. Levi Strauss, an 1840s German immigrant, immigrant is responsible for our blue jean obsession. He sold canvas pants reinforced with copper rivets, which were strong enough to withstand the rigors of mining. You can learn more about the history of these pants online.
During the Civil War, there was a cotton twill called jean cloth. The man in this late-1860s image wears an overcoat and trousers that look like they are the predecessors of the canvas jeans.
In his right hand, the man holds what I think is a divining rod for looking for water.
Got a picture of an ancestral family member in blue jeans? I’ll feature it here in a timeline of the pants in family photos. Email me your picture with a brief description.