Did your ancestors settle in western states and were first landowners? If so, you can find the information about their land at www.historygeo.com. Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming land records were recently added to the database. I don’t have ancestors in those states but I did find great-great-grandfather in Kansas. Doing a search on some surnames of those I know settled in these areas produced a lot of results. Check this database for your ancestors. Read the article about these 3.3 million original landowners added to historygeo.com.
(Jeanine Barndt is the Head Librarian for the Heritage Quest Research Library in beautiful downtown Sumner, Washington; this bit is from the HQRL Newsletter for Fall 2015.)
I learn history best from historical fiction. And to my ken, some authors of this sort are better than others. Edward Rutherfurd is one of the best, in my opinion. The following blurb from his book New York gives a brand new insight into those old Civil War soldier photos that we prize so highly…. The year is 1863 (page 413) and then 1871 (page 488):
“His photographic studio was well equipped….. like the other photographers on the Bowery, his bread-and-butter business in recent years had been taking quick portraits of young men standing proudly, or sheepishly, in their unaccustomed uniforms, before they went off to fight again the South. Quicker than the old daguerreotype to take, easy to reproduce on paper, he’d get thirty a day sometimes. It paid the rent. At first, these small “carte-de-visite”-size portraits had seemed jolly enough, like taking someone’s picture at the seaside. Gradually, however, as the terribly casualties of the Civil War had mounted, he had realized that the dull little portraits he was taking were more like tombstones, last mementoes, before some poor fellow vanished from his family forever. And if he tried to make each humble one as splendid as he could, he did not tell his customers the reason.”
The character was explaining why he didn’t get a photo of Lincoln speaking the Gettysburg Address…… Lincoln was so brief and: “It had been no easy business getting a picture in the Civil War. The photographs were always taken in 3-D, which meant that two plates had to be inserted simultaneously into a double camera, one to the left, one to the right. The glass plates had to be quickly cleaned, coated with collodion, then, while still wet, dipped in silver nitrate before being put into the camera. The exposure time might only be a few seconds, but then on had to rush the plates, still wet, into the mobile darkroom. Quite apart from the difficulties of having people in motion during the seconds of exposure, the whole process was so cumbersome that taking pictures of battlefield action was almost impossible. “