Photographs

The MHS Photograph Collection consists of approximately 120,000 photographs that span the development of photographic technology. The bulk of the collection consists of portraits of individuals and family groups that support work in the Society's manuscript collections. The collection includes more than 550 daguerreotypes, 100 tintypes, 200 ambrotypes, 4,000 cartes-de-visite, 200 cabinet cards, and 5,000 glass plate negatives.

Highlights

The Society holds many striking examples of daguerreotype photography, including portraits of Annie Adams Fields, ca. 1853, and Daniel Webster, 1851, both taken by Southworth and Hawes of Boston. The daguerreotypes also include views, such as Joslin Gilman's Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass. (1840).

There are also more than 2,000 images that document people, places, and events of the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, with an emphasis on Massachusetts regiments and personnel. Among the most notable are tintypes of members of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first African-American regiment raised in the North.

How to Find Photographs

Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes are cataloged individually in ABIGAIL, the library online catalog. While the remainder of the photographs in the collection are not cataloged as individual items, 50,000 photographs located within collections are described in online collection guides and in ABIGAIL. Please contact the reader services staff if you do not find a specific photographic item in the online catalog.

Information on ordering reproductions of photographs is available on the Reproduction Services web page.

Selections Online

View a selection of photographs online.

Upcoming Events

Online Event; Seminar; Environmental History Seminar

Climate in Words and Numbers: How Early Americans Recorded Weather in Almanacs

9Mar 5:15PM 2021
This is an online event.

As we begin to consider climate as an everyday problem, it's valuable to see how people did that in the past. With support from the Guggenheim Foundation, Joyce Chaplin ...

Online Event; Conversation; Racial Injustice Series

Confronting Racial Injustice: Redlining: From Slavery to $8 in 400 Years

11Mar 6:00PM 2021
This is an online program

In 2015, the Boston Federal Reserve found the median net worth for Black families in Boston was $8, in stark contrast to $250,000 for white families. This discrepancy is ...

Author Talk; Online Event

The Hunt for History: On the Trail of the World’s Lost Treasures—from the Letters of Lincoln, ...

15Mar 5:30PM 2021
This is an online program

Nathan Raab describes his years as the Sherlock Holmes of historical artifacts and he shows us what the past can tell us about the present. Raab shares some ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

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