Thursday, March 24, 2011

Discussing Civil War photos with Maureen Taylor

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Maureen A. Taylor, the Photo Detective, about her new book Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.

What prompted you to write this book?

I was very involved with writing The Last Muster. Then the editors asked me to write about the Civil War. The book didn’t happen at that time but the more I researched it the more I realized there wasn’t a lot of information out there on photos of the Civil War. Now with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War coming up on April 12, 2011 the timing was perfect.

What types of photos are included in the book?

There are many types of photos including ambrotypes, tintypes and others. Surprisingly, ambrotypes were more popular at the time of the Civil War than expected. There were many ambrotypes of soldiers and more tintypes of families.

Where do the photos in the book come from?

Some of the photos are from the Library of Congress collection, some from my personal collection and some from the collection of my friend and colleague, Jane Schwerdtfeger. Several of the photos were discovered during photo consultations at conference appearances.

How common is it to find Civil War photos in a family collection?

Most family collections start about 1900. However, if a family had a Civil War soldier then the book will help them find a photo. There was a famous quote that said just about ever Civil War soldier had their photo taken.

What tip would you give to researchers who are looking for Civil War photos of their ancestors?

They should research the regiment that their ancestor belonged to. Then they should search for a re-enactment group specific to that regiment. The re-enactment groups do extensive research on the individuals in the unit.

What is the significance of the purple color of the cover of the book?

The color purple represents valor which seemed appropriate for representing the soldiers of the Civil War.

For more information, read my previous review of Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to find a photo of 2 of my GG grandpas that were in the civil war.We do have one of my husband's GG grandfather. I am now going to look for re-enactment group for their regiment.Thanks, Marian.