Civil War Portraits

Ambrotypes and tintypes preserve memory of Civil War soldiers

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Thousands of portraits of individual soldiers were produced over the course of the Civil War. Invented in the late 1830s in Europe, photography was introduced in America in the 1840s. During the 1860s, the tintype—an image on an iron plate— joined the ambrotype—an image on glass—as a popular means of distributing images.

In the early months of the Civil War, scores of men traveled to photography studios to have their portraits taken in their new military uniforms. In their camps, military units occasionally posed for photographs while performing drills and soldiers were able to send images of themselves home for loved ones. For the first time, family members could look at a photograph of their soldier, an experience that would become common in every war to follow.

This object is featured as part of the Collectors' Gallery, an exhibition space devoted to showcasing the collections of significant private collectors in Texas and their efforts to preserve historical artifacts, from The Nau Civil War Collection, and is on view through February 4, 2018. 

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Civil War Portraits Artifact from Houston
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