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Photo Survey: Greater Percentage of Ambrotypes in the South, Cartes in the North

Students of Civil War photography are aware that surviving portraits of U.S. soldiers are much higher in number than their C.S. counterparts. This disparity is explained by the North’s larger population of military aged men, and the loss of Southern territory and supplies as the war progressed. As a result, most Confederate portraits were taken early in the war or at its end. In the North, picture taking was uninterrupted. Meanwhile, the photographic formats that dominated popular culture in 1861, ambrotypes and tintypes, were overtaken by cartes de visite in 1865. An MI survey of 869 identified portraits published in the magazine (724 U.S. and 145 C.S.) clearly shows the difference in formats: Ambrotypes dominate in the South and cartes de visite in the North.

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