In the early 1860s, the cabinet card was initially used for landscape views before it was adopted for portraiture. These pictures were larger than other photographs and usually included extensive logos and information on the reverse side of the card to advertise the photographer’s services.
Due to their larger image size, the cabinet card steadily increased in popularity during the second half of the 1860s and into the 1870s, replacing the carte de visite as the most popular form of portraiture. The cabinet card was large enough to be easily viewed from across the room when typically displayed on a cabinet, which is probably why they became known as such. When the renowned Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady, however, first started offering them to his clientele towards the end of 1865, he used the term, "Imperial Carte-de-Visite." Whatever the name, the popular print format joined the photograph album as a part in the late 19th century Victorian parlor.
Early into its introduction, the cabinet card began the temporary decline of the photographic album which had come into existence. Photographers began employing artists to retouch photographs (by altering the negative before making the print) to hide facial defects revealed by the new format. Small stands and photograph frames for the table top replaced the heavy photograph album. Photo album manufacturers responded by producing albums with pages primarily for cabinet cards with a few pages in the back reserved for the old family carte de visite prints.
For nearly three decades after the 1860s, the commercial portraiture industry was dominated by the carte de visite and cabinet card formats. In the decade before 1900 the number and variety of card photograph styles expanded in response to declining sales. Manufactures of standardized card stock and print materials hoped to stimulate sales and retain public interest in card photographs. However the public increasingly demanded outdoor and candid photographs with enlarged prints which they could frame or smaller unmounted snapshots they could collect in scrapbooks.
In part to the immense popularity of the affordable Kodak Box Brownie camera, first introduced in 1900, the public increasingly began taking their own photographs and thus the popularity of the cabinet card declined.
Dubuque photographers certainly offered cabinet photographs to their clients.