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.
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.
General Douglas MacArthur led American troops in World Wars I and II before being fired by President Harry Truman during the Korean War.
Lyndon Johnson pushed progressive programs before the Vietnam War eroded his support. Part of the award-winning Presidents Collection.
A president who rose from a broken childhood to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history, and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.
As a nation mourned the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a manhunt closed in on the twenty-six-year-old actor, John Wilkes Booth.
Harry Truman was responsible for finding America's place at the start of the Cold War. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
A civil rights leader in Harlem before entering politics, Powell was one of the most charismatic black leaders of the 20th century.
The last surviving member of a California Indian tribe became a sensation in 1911.