Portraits of Mrs. John A. Logan and Dollie Logan

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Portrait photographs of Mrs. John A. Logan and Dollie Logan
c. 1858-1864
John Alexander Logan
Tintypes set in brass and union case
Plates 1 1/8  in. dia.
Chicago History Museum, Gift of Mary Logan Tucker

Who are the two people in these small photographs? The writing on the case identifies them as Dollie Logan (on the left) and her mother, Mrs. John A. Logan. It might seem strange that both Mrs. Logan and her daughter appear to be so serious, but it wasn’t yet common at that time to be photographed, much less to smile, for the photographer.

These photographs are tintypes, made on a thin sheet of metal. Their sturdiness and small size made them easy to carry. The writing on the case also tells us that these photographs were “carried by General John A. Logan thru [the] Civil War.” General Logan was one of millions of people who left family behind to fight for his beliefs. It was not unusual for soldiers to carry photographs and other reminders of loved ones into battle.

John Logan survived the war to return to his family, and went on to serve Illinois as a Congressman and Senator. Mary Logan was an active supporter of the Union cause during the war. After the war she remained active in politics and worked to win recognition for Civil War veterans and their families. She also wrote books about her experience as a soldier’s wife and her time in Washington, D.C. She is credited, along with her husband, for helping to establish Memorial Day as a national holiday. She also played a role in having statues of General Logan placed in Washington, D.C., and in Grant Park in Chicago.

1. Why might soldiers of the Civil War and of wars since then have carried photographs and reminders of loved ones? What reminders would you take with you if you were headed to war?

2. Does seeing photographs of people who were a part of the Civil War affect you differently than seeing paintings or statues? If so, how is the effect different?

Further reading:
Logan, Mrs. John. A. Reminiscences of a Soldier's Wife. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1913.

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