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

Brown Bag; Research Fellow

The Ordeal of Homecoming: Northern Civilians and Union Veterans

30Aug 12:00PM 2019

Recent studies of Union veterans hold that northern civilians were eager to forget the Civil War, ignorant of the plight of the veteran, and inept in their few attempts ...

Conversation; Legacies of 1619

Legacies of 1619: Recognition & Resilience

7Sep 4:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 3:30.

The institution of slavery in English North America began in 1619 with the arrival of roughly 20 Africans in the settlement of Jamestown. What has followed has been 400 ...

Author Talk

Properties of Empire: Indians, Colonists, & Land Speculators on the New England Frontier

10Sep 6:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Properties of Empire challenges assumptions about the relationship between Indigenous and imperial property creation in early America. Many colonists came to believe ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

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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