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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

Civil War uniforms

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  #1  
Old 08-10-2005, 05:34 PM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Civil War uniforms

These are images I received yesterday of two of my great grand uncles who served in the Civil War. I have not done anything to these images except crop and resize for posting here.

The standing figure served in the Wisconsin Infantry in Tennessee and at Vicksburg. Actually, he spent more time in the hospital with dysentary than he did on the battlefield. He died in St. Louis, Missouri, December, 1863.

The other figure also served with the Wisconsin Infantry at Vicksburg and was part of Sherman's march across Alabama and Georgia.
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Old 08-10-2005, 09:54 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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for being civil war era those are in excellent shape. what type of photo are they?

also, have you ever noticed that NOBODY that was photographed before 1900 ever smiled?

Craig
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:31 PM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Not having seen the originals, I am only guessing they are a paper process of some sort, probably cabinet cards or their smaller predecessor, carte de visite. Albums were made specially for holding such photos and these have probably been in such an album from the 1860s.

Having your picture taken was serious business! What would they think of camera phones and such today?
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:56 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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well, whatever type and however kept, they do seem in excellent condition. good luck and if you need any help, just holler

and yes, the culteral shock would be pretty severe, i'm sure

Craig
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Old 08-10-2005, 11:48 PM
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freddieanne freddieanne is offline
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MaryLynn,

You're so lucky to have such treasures. And such remarkable condition!!

Someone once told me that the reason people didn't smile in those days was that the shutter had to stay open for so long the subject had to remain perfectly still for a long period of time, and therefore were very serious. Also, that they had bad teeth and didn't want to smile.

Anyone know if this is in fact true??
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Old 08-11-2005, 12:32 AM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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I've heard the "hold still for the shutter" theory as well but it would have been difficult to get small children to hold still and you rarely see movement with them. The "bad teeth" theory is possible.

One of my reference books, my five pound "bible" of 19th century dress is Dressed for the Photographer by Joan Severa. In her preface she explains the posing and manipulation that some photographers would use on their subjects. It was largely based on similar posing done by portrait artists where a smile would be artificial at best. The other aspect was the attitude of the subject himself. "...it was important to these people to have their pictures taken; it was an opportunity to leave for posterity an image of themselves at their very best. A camera portrait had somewhat the same momentous significance in the early years as a painted portrait and was undertaken with the same sense of destiny."

Add to that the fact that they were usually wearing their "best" clothes, or clothes borrowed from the photographer, which might not have been all that comfortable. Instead of looking for a smile, you have to look for the expression in the eyes. There you see the wisdom, love, joy and sorrow.

Can you tell these old photos have become an obsession? I even talk to my ancestors as I am cleaning away the dust and scratches. They tell me a lot about themselves and their lives. But if their voices are ever audible, I'm "outta here!"
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Old 08-11-2005, 01:10 AM
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freddieanne freddieanne is offline
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MaryLynn wrote:

Quote:
Can you tell these old photos have become an obsession? I even talk to my ancestors as I am cleaning away the dust and scratches. They tell me a lot about themselves and their lives. But if their voices are ever audible, I'm "outta here!
LOL I completely understand! I've spent months restoring photos of my ancestors from the late nineteenth & early twentieth centuries. I only wish they could have told me about their lives. Most of them seemed pretty severe. Only one woman I can think of that had a a glimmer of "joy in her eyes" or a pleasant expression.

Thanks for the info. The posing, manipulation and momentous significance all seem very reasonable and likely.

Have fun,

Annabel
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Old 08-11-2005, 03:00 AM
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Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Been watching a series on the American Civil War just recently, so very interested to see your pictures, sort of puts a more personal slant on a large historic event.

I believe that children were often "held" in place by frames, to keep them from moving during the long exposures, but this was probably only for posed studio portraits.
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Old 08-11-2005, 11:24 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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Kind of looks to me that these might be tintypes in a paper folder. Looks like shadows from the folder, and the one with the standing guy seems to have a reflection in it?????

My family has 4 veterns of the Union Army and 3 from the Confederate side that we know off now. May be more, but we are still trying to tie up the loose ends of that.

When you talk of old photos, take a look at this about the photographers of the day:

http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2...ent_of_a_p.php
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Old 08-11-2005, 11:53 AM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Thanks for your comments, Mike. Regarding your Civil War men, have you gotten the military or pension files on any of them? There can be a wealth of information in there.

By the way, I will be contacting you in a few days. I'll be receiving the original of that silvered photo from earlier this summer as well as some others that have been through a flood. Sure would appreciate learning from you.

ML
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