Sunday, January 28, 2007

Can you help?

It'll take an army of volunteers to find all the members of the Revolutionary War generation that had their picture taken. We need your help! If you own or know of a photograph of an individual who served in the American Revolution, was born during the War, or who was married to a soldier, please let us know. Your assistance is needed.

A full description of our project and several articles are online.

Here's what you can do to participate:

  • Look through your family photographs and see if you own any images that fit our categories. We've had fantastic luck tentatively identifying previous unidentified photographs. We do all the research.
  • Spread the word by telling your local genealogical society about this project.
  • Search local historical society collections for images that meet our criteria.

Email Maureen at for additional information.

Types of Photographs

We're looking for images that date from the beginning of photography such as:

Daguerreotypes (1839 to 1860s): The first photographs, daguerreotypes have reflective surfaces; you must hold the photos at an angle to see their images. Daguerreotypes are often found in cases.

Ambrotypes (invented in 1854): Often placed in cases because of their fragility, these glass images are backed with dark material.

Tintypes or ferrotypes (invented in 1856): This third type of cased image is produced on thin sheets of iron.

Cartes de visite (CDV’s) (introduced in 1854): Inspired by 19th-century visiting cards, these small paper prints usually measured 2 x 4 inches.

Finding the Revolutionary War Generation

Are the people in your family pictures old enough to be part of the Revolutionary War generation? Here's who qualifies:

Patriots, soldiers and loyalist adults: Anyone who was an adult during the American Revolution would have been at least 80 years old by the advent of photography. Several veterans appeared in Reverend Elias Hillard ‘s Last Men of the Revolution in the 1860s, but thousands of men applied for pensions after the War.

Children: Anyone who was a child during the American Revolution would have been in his late 50s or older when they had their picture taken beginning in the 1840s.

Wives and widows: The last surviving widow of a Revolutionary soldier died in 1906! Esther Sumner married Noah Damon when she was 21 and he was 75. Finding pictures of wives and widows means looking at pictures taken anywhere from 1840 to the early 1900s.