By Heather Rockwood, Communications Manager
Did you know that the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collection contains something from almost every president of the United States—a signature, letter, photograph, lock of hair, or other form of memorabilia? I did not know that before I started working at the MHS, but I find it fascinating and often look through the collection guide of Presidential Letters. I especially love the photographs of the presidents.
Starting with two of my personal favorites, and the oldest one in the MHS collection, this photograph of John Quincy Adams was printed after 1860, but the original photograph, a daguerreotype, was taken in 1847, when JQA was 80 years old. My second favorite photograph is also the second oldest in the collection. It’s of Abraham Lincoln, whose photograph is represented in the collection several times, but this one is the most iconic.
The next two photographs interest me because they were taken outdoors. On the left is Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia, with Orville E. Babcock, Grant’s secretary, and Babcock’s wife Annie, Miss Cambell, her sister, and Miss Barnes all on Martha’s Vineyard. On the right is Theodore Roosevelt taking a jump on his horse.
The last two photographs are more about family and our Massachusetts senator Leverett Saltonstall (1892–1979). On the left are Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy, shaking hands with Leverett Saltonstall just off camera, and on the right is Dwight Eisenhower and his family—David, Barbara Ann, Susan, and Mamie—with Leverett Saltonstall.