About the Collection

About the Photographs About the Stamp Act Photography Studios

About the Collection

The Taliaferro Generals of the Confederacy photograph collection consists of 34 photographs or drawings of 33 of the men who served the Confederacy. Not all the men were officially given the rank of general, but they all fought for the Confederacy one way or another. When the collection was processed, several loose stamps were found in the same envelope along with the photographs. Several  photos still have a stamp affixed to the back or a visible mark where a stamp was attached. Photos of Generals Clingman, Jones, Lomax and Smith have visible stamp marks on the image side of the photo. See "About the Stamp Act" below for further information.

This photo collection is part of a larger manuscript archive called the White, Wellford, Taliaferro, and Marshall families collection. The larger collection contains journals from Edwin Taliaferro which include notes about his 1850s travels in Europe, his 1863 journals from Fredericksburg, Virginia, several plays, manuscripts and poems. Also of note in the manuscript collection are newspaper clippings and correspondence dated immediately after the Civil War which provide an intimate view into a difficult time of Southern life.


About the Photographs

The photographs in this collection are carte-de-visites (CDV). A carte-de-visite is small albumen print that is mounted on a standard sized 2 1/2" by 4" backing card. The process was patented in 1854 by a Parisian photographer and the style gained their height of popularity in the United States during the Civil War. The were called carte-de-visite, which is French for "visiting card," because their compact size made them perfect for photographic calling cards that could be presented during a social visit. Their standardized size made them convenient for photo album makers and they were easy to trade and collect. These types of photos also served as a way to familiarize Americans with the faces and popular images of politicians and other celebrities. This particular collection of photographs may have been sold as a set or collected individually. They may have been presented to the public as a souvenir of the war or as a memorial. Around 1868, the larger cabinet card photograph became popular and by 1885 had taken over most of the carte-de-visite's market. 


About the Stamp Act

From August 1, 1864 to August 1, 1866, the United States government imposed a taxation system to help pay for the war against the Confederacy. Photographs, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes or any "sun" pictures were required to have a tax stamp affixed to the back of the image. The act required that the seller of the photograph cancel the stamp by initialing or marking the stamp and dating it. The only readable date on a stamp from the Taliaferro collection is dated "Mar. 13, 1866" and was not affixed to a photograph but found with them in the same envelope. Stamps specifically for photos were never produced so general stamps were used. The amount of the tax (from 1 to 3 cents) depended on the price of the photograph.


Photography Studios

Some of the photographs had readable markings on the backing that identified which photography studio the photos came from. This doesn't mean that this is the location where the photo's subject actually posed for the image. Just like today, carte-de-visites could be easily reproduced from negatives. Below is a list of the studios as marked on the back of some of the photographs:

Generals Home Page  ||  Photos  ||  About the Collection  ||  List of Generals  ||  Bibliography  

A project of the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections Division
Content and Design: Heather Muller