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.
America's first First Lady defined the role of the President's wife and in the process changed the face of the American presidency.
Lyndon Johnson pushed progressive programs before the Vietnam War eroded his support. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
The African American jazz composer and bandleader performed regularly at Harlem's Cotton Club, leaving a legacy in music.
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.
Silent film actress Mary Pickford played a pivotal role in bringing Hollywood into the center of the motion picture industry.
The last surviving member of a California Indian tribe became a sensation in 1911.
A biography of the 41st U.S. president, from his service in World War II to his days in the Oval Office. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
President Woodrow Wilson lead America during World War I, created the Federal Reserve, and helped create the League of Nations. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.