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

Malgeri Modern American Society and Culture Seminar; Online Event

Writing Uncompensated Emancipation into the Lost Cause

27Oct 5:15PM 2020
This is an online program

After the US Civil War, white southerners claimed federal reimbursements for the value of freed slaves Federal lawmakers rejected these claims in the Fourteenth Amendment ...

Online Event; Conversation

Jefferson: Then and Now

29Oct 5:30PM 2020
This is an online program

The reputations of all of the founders have changed dramatically over the course of American history, none more than that of Thomas Jefferson. Historians Annette Gordon ...

African American History Seminar; Online Event

Success to the Literary Society! Black Male Youth Organizing in Early Nineteenth-Century Boston

5Nov 5:15PM 2020
This is an online program

In 1841, a dozen or so African American male youth aged twelve to sixteen established the Young Men’s Literary Society in Boston with the stated aim to promote ...

From our Blog

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Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

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