Photographs

The MHS Photograph Collection consists of approximately 120,000 photographs that span the development of photographic technology. The bulk of the collection consists of portraits of individuals and family groups that support work in the Society's manuscript collections. The collection includes more than 550 daguerreotypes, 100 tintypes, 200 ambrotypes, 4,000 cartes-de-visite, 200 cabinet cards, and 5,000 glass plate negatives.

Highlights

The Society holds many striking examples of daguerreotype photography, including portraits of Annie Adams Fields, ca. 1853, and Daniel Webster, 1851, both taken by Southworth and Hawes of Boston. The daguerreotypes also include views, such as Joslin Gilman's Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass. (1840).

There are also more than 2,000 images that document people, places, and events of the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, with an emphasis on Massachusetts regiments and personnel. Among the most notable are tintypes of members of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first African-American regiment raised in the North.

How to Find Photographs

Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes are cataloged individually in ABIGAIL, the library online catalog. While the remainder of the photographs in the collection are not cataloged as individual items, 50,000 photographs located within collections are described in online collection guides and in ABIGAIL. Please contact the reader services staff if you do not find a specific photographic item in the online catalog.

Information on ordering reproductions of photographs is available on the Reproduction Services web page.

Selections Online

View a selection of photographs online.

Upcoming Events

History of Women and Gender Seminar

The "Woman Inventor" as a Political Tool of Female Suffragists: Patents, Invention, and Civil Rights ...

23Jan 5:30PM 2018
Location: Massachusetts Historical Society

After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the formation of American nationhood and citizenship. Part of a larger book ...

Conversation

Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Award & Reception

25Jan 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Please join us for a special evening in which Tamara Plakins Thornton will receive the 2017 Gomes Prize for Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a 19th ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

27Jan 10:00AM 2018

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, ...

From our Blog

Life in the Boarding House: Elizabeth Dorr’s Diaries

During a recent search in our online catalog, ABIGAIL, I came across two subject headings that caught my attention – “Single women” and “Boardinghouses—Massachusetts ...

No Mere 'Adventurer': P. T. Barnum, Iranistan, and the Swedish ...

March 7 1882 Sir, I send Cards as you  request. I am too full of elephants to command much sentiment. All my thoughts & cares at present are locked up in two trunks - one of ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?