Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review: "Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album" by Maureen A. Taylor

This book is so hot off the press that there are no printed copies available yet (they will be soon). I was able to review the book when the author allowed me to read her single-copy galley proof.

I have been interested in photo identification from the time I became interested in genealogy. I come from a long line of photographers in my family. So it’s a natural fit for me. I’ve been reading Maureen Taylor’s books right from the start, as well as following her informative Photo Detective articles in Family Tree Magazine. I am very familiar not only with Taylor’s photo identification books but I also have a collection written by other authors.

As a genealogist and family historian, I know what I want in a photo identification book. I want lots of photos. I want to be able to see a wide variety of photos that I can compare to my own historical family collection as well as to my private non-family collection which I’ve been growing slowly. I want to see a variety of details such as clothing, props and backdrops that will give me the tools I need to identify my own photos.

In her latest book Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album, Taylor provides 130 photos related specifically to the Civil War time frame in this 192-page book. The book is an easy-to-hold trade paperback size but that doesn’t detract from the photos which are large enough to view the important details. Except for the cover, the book and photos are in black and white.

There is a wide variety of photos from families to individual portraits, children and adults. I was pleased to see a selection of African American portraits also. Given that the book focuses on the Civil War there are many photos of soldiers (even a sailor or two). Without actually counting, it appeared that there was a pretty even divide between Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers.

In addition to an abundance of photos, readers are treated to a broad overview of topics relating to Civil War photos. Taylor provides background information related to the time period on photo albums, revenue stamps, clothing (separate chapters for men, women and children), uniforms, weddings and much more. In addition there is a chapter focused on researching photographers whose company imprints often appear on the photos.

A nice touch that has been added to the end of the book is a chapter of real life success stories in finding family photos. She recounts the success of family historians, Midge Frazel at the site Dead Fred and of Rachel Pierce on eBay in locating family photos.

The book also includes sections for endnotes, a glossary and bibliography. The book is currently for sale on CreateSpace and I’m told the first books will ship at the end of March 2011.

Maureen Taylor, in her book Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album, delivers just the right balance between providing numerous example photographs and detailed historical and photographic background. If you have Civil War era ancestors in your family you will find this book a welcome and beneficial addition to your library.

Author: Maureen A. Taylor
Title: Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
192 pages with illustrations; endnotes; glossary; bibliography; black and white
ISBN: 928-0-578-02809-0
Available From:
Cost: $24.95
On sale now; first shipments due out end of March 2011
Facebook Book Page


  1. Thanks for all the information on this book!

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  3. Fascinating. Photos are such a vital part of genealogy, but they sometimes get overlooked. i'm glad to see it is covered well in this book.