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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

Re: Civil War photographs
In Response To: Civil War photographs ()

Many, many soldiers, both Black and white had carte de visite photos done by traveling photographers. Some have survived in families. First I would try and locate relatives who may have such photos of soldiers-often they aren't identified, but may be identifiable from later photos, or by other written information, such as letters and diaries.

Another resource are the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) posts around the country. Some kept very detailed records, and often had narratives by the soldiers of their service, injuries, etc. Libraries, local VFW and American Legion Posts, Historical societies and museums have been among the repositories where these records have wound up.

If you know where they lived prior to entering the army-and where they lived afterwards, this is the best way to find local GAR posts. Local historical societies, libraries and newspaper archives are other sources. Some obituaries had photographs. If you know where they are buried, you can get a good idea of what issues to check.

Remember that photographs were not as common then as now, and like photos now,many were never identified. (Just look at whatever photographs you have-are they all identified? Would someone twenty or fifty or a hundred years from now be able to identify them? (A hint-don't use pens to write on the back of photographs-over time they have a tendency to bleed into the other side. Use pencil, and write as much as possible in the margin areas on the back side. We now also have the potential for digital identification, which hopefully will be readable far into the future.

One more source may be regimental histories. Some Black regiments had them, and others had not. The better ones have a lot of biographical info, photos and military and burial information.

Good luck with your search.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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