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.
Before he became the first U.S. president, service to the colonies would profoundly change George Washington.
James Michael Curley and his sophisticated political machine dominated Boston for almost half a century.
Harry Truman was responsible for finding America's place at the start of the Cold War. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
P.T. Barnum -- huckster, con man, promoter, entertainer and founder of "The Greatest Show on Earth".
Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general of the American Civil War, remains a source of fascination and, for some, veneration.
General Douglas MacArthur led American troops in World Wars I and II before being fired by President Harry Truman during the Korean War.
Their intense faith and strict adherence to 300-year-old traditions have by turn captivated and repelled, awed and irritated, inspired and confused America.
Forever enshrined in myth by an assassin's bullet, Kennedy's presidency long defied objective appraisal. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.