Just 22 years after the birth of photography, enterprising photographers rushed to Civil War battlefields and produced America's first documentary images of war. Working with cumbersome wet plates, they produced grim, shocking pictures that the New York Times described as revealing "the terrible reality and earnestness of war." The American people were both drawn to the images for their apparent realism and repulsed by the horrors they depicted. Seeing Civil War photographs was so much like visiting the battlefield, wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes, "that all the emotions excited by the stained and sordid scene... came back to us, and we buried them in the recesses of our cabinet as we would have buried the mutilated remains of the dead they too vividly represented."
Thousands of Civil War images, original 19th-century photographs from such renowned photographers as Timothy O'Sullivan and Alexander Gardner, lay perfectly preserved in the attic of the Medford Historical Society in Medford, Massachusetts until 1990. This gallery presents a small sample of this pristine collection.
American comandante William Morgan went to Cuba to help Fidel Castro return the country to a democracy. Instead, four years later, he was executed.
From letters of the second U.S. president, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail, this film explores their tumultuous times.
President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger initiated a secret diplomatic breakthrough with Mao Tse-tung that shocked and changed the world.
In 1897, Arctic explorer Robert Peary caused a sensation when he returned from Greenland with five Eskimos.
James Michael Curley and his sophisticated political machine dominated Boston for almost half a century.
William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's legendary exploits helped create the myth of the American West that still endures today.
The story of James Garfield, one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president, and his assassination by a deluded madman.
The Last Stand, the final act of General George Custer's larger-than-life career, played out on a grand stage with a spellbound public engrossed in the drama. Part of the Wild West collection.