These small ambrotypes were likely taken at the time of Henry and Mary's wedding in September of 1864. During this time ambrotypes were a very popular process of photography, and were often protectively housed in "Union Cases," an early form of plastic molded with an elaborate design outside, and an embossed velvet interior to protect the elaborate interior metal frame, glass, and photograph. The design on the outside of these cases depicts an embracing couple, outside of a building. The man's hand stretches behind the woman to drop some coins in the hand of someone barely seen in the doorway. Two horses in the background may be awaiting the couple's return. This, no doubt, referred to a popular romantic story of the time. The growing popularity of photography at mid-nineteenth century was a revolution in permitting the widespread recording of familial images and current events.
Henry Worcester Swanton was in business with his father James B. Swanton and John C. Jameson, running a chandlery that outfitted out-going ships. The Swantons had two children, Frederick and John Camp. Mary died not long after John Camp's birth. The photographs taken of Mary would have allowed her very young children to learn exactly what she looked like when they were older, something impossible for earlier generations.