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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Ambrotypes & Tintypes

Unidentified girl in mourning dress holding framed photograph of her father... Between 1861 and 1870. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

The invention of wet collodion photography processes in the 1850s allowed the development of two new kinds of photographs--ambrotypes and tintypes. These new formats shared many characteristics with the earlier daguerreotypes but were quicker and cheaper to produce, and they were used prolifically for portraiture. Many were produced as keepsakes, housed in ornate cases, similar to those used for daguerreotypes.

A particular strength of the division's ambrotypes and tintypes collection are images from the Civil War era, presented to the Library in the Liljenquist Family Collection. The collection includes portraits of the wives and families soldiers left behind, as well as women who participated in the war, particularly women who served as nurses.

Searching the Collection

The Liljenquist Family Collection has been individually cataloged and digitized and has its own listing in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Other ambrotypes and tintypes can be searched using the call number identier, AMB/TIN.

Sample Images