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.
An African American minister whose dream of ending racism galvanized millions of Americans in the civil rights movement.
A central figure in the narrative of how the west was won, Wyatt Earp and his story became an American legend. Part of the Wild West collection.
The ultimate frontiersman, Carson inspired popular novels before being associated with the "Long Walk" of the Navajo people.
The story of a Russian immigrant and anarchist who is said to have inspired the assassination of President William McKinley.
The life of the president who saw himself as the heroic defender of the "shining city on a hill." Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
The first man to fly across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh was unprepared for the attention, particularly after his son was kidnapped.
A look at JFK's assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald and the subsequent investigations that lead to a widespread loss of trust in government institutions.
Thoroughbred racehorse Seabiscuit was the long shot that captured America's heart during the Depression.