Just because many of your ancestors lived before the invention of photography doesn't mean there are no pictures of them. Start your search for portraits and descriptions of pre-photography ancestors with these six sources.
Rumor among your relatives is that the family nose (which you unfortunately inherited) descends from Great-great-great-uncle Harry. You'd love to find a picture to see if he's really responsible for this facial feature, but Harry died before the advent of photography in 1839. Don't give up! Just because you don't have a photograph of Harry doesn't mean that you can't discover other visual evidence of this family trait, or other glimpses of your earlier ancestors.
When Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype, the first type of photographic image, he was just one of many individuals looking for a new way to capture a realistic likeness of people and places. For centuries, professional and amateur artists had employed a variety of techniques to memorialize a person, from paintings to engravings. Americans loved to have their likenesses captured by itinerant artists, who frequently painted their subjects' heads on top of pre-painted portraits. In C.B. King's circa-1815 painting Itinerant Painter, the whole family watches while the mother of a typical family has her picture painted. Sitting for a silhouette was also a popular form of entertainment.