Sandburg's Hometown

June 23, 2014

Charlie (Carl) Sandburg at Confirmation

Charlie (Carl) Sandburg at Confirmation

The Family Photograph Album

by Barbara Schock

The card photograph was in invented in 1859, just in time for young men going off to serve in the Civil War, to have their portrait taken for the folks at home. Card photographs were easier and less expensive to produce than tintypes and daguerreotypes. They also provided a better quality of image. It was printed on thin paper which was glued to stiff card stock. The most common size was 2 3/8 x 4 ¼ inches. By the 1870s the size of the image had doubled. This allowed photographers to add props and scenery to the pictures.

The publishers of family Bibles saw an opportunity to create large albums in which to keep family photographs. The Sandburg family, like many other families who had worked themselves out of poverty, had a large Bible and a photograph album resting on the table in the center of the parlor. Carl described the album as having red plush covers with a nickel-plated clasp. The children loved to work the clasp and look at the photographs inside. They could see what their parents looked like when they first married.

The family album became a kind of genealogical record of members of the family. Portraits of the next generations would be added as they came along. The parents told stories to accompany the pictures on the pages. The stories taught the children about their heritage.

Young people often had their pictures taken and these would be added to the family album. They also exchanged the cards with their friends. Some people collected cards of famous people and added them to the family album. Girls might use some of their handcrafting skills to decorate the pages.

When there were visitors to the home, the album would be opened so other relatives and friends could view the photographs. The accompanying conversation told visitors of the accomplishments of family members.

To our eyes the old photographs look stiff and don't reveal much about the personality of the individual. Photographers of the time were attempting to copy the style of painted portraits. We don't know the family stories that were told about each person represented in an album.

The family photograph album became an important item in many homes and was treasured for generations afterward. It was a family record, a social register, entertainment, an advertisement for the local photographer because his name and address was always printed on the card, as well as a gallery of famous personages of the time.

In the late 1880s, when George Eastman put his camera and film processing system on the market, the keeping of family albums changed. The pictures were not as formal. They caught family activities, such as picnicking or other casual occasions. The people in the snapshots were relaxed and informally dressed.

Many years later, when Carl Sandburg visited Sweden, he met cousins who still had snapshots Clara Sandburg had sent to them. They were a reminder of the relatives who lived in America and had a well known and accomplished son.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013  Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013  Lace Curtains 
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity