Digital Commonwealth

The Medford Historical Society Civil War Photograph Collection

The Medford Historical Society & Museum

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The Medford Historical Society & Museum presents its large and significant collection of Civil War photographs. They were donated to the Society in 1948 and, in an exciting turn of events, rediscovered in 1990. This was the collection of Samuel Crocker Lawrence, a Civil War general, Medford's first mayor, and generous benefactor to the city.

There are 3,680 albumen prints ranging from large-format battle site landscapes to carte de visite studio portraits. Many are identified and both sides of the photographs are shown. The images remain in unusually fine condition. They have largely escaped the fading common in albumen prints for two reasons: they were rarely exposed to light and most were never mounted, which spared them contact with the destructive impurities of low-quality cardboard and adhesives. In addition, some prints were made before the delicate glass plate negatives developed cracks or emulsion loss, which show up in later prints.

The importance of this collection lies in the content of the images, their artistic value, and as an example of early photography. Upon rediscovery of the collection, some of the photographs were exhibited and written about. Now in digital form, the full collection can be shared with the public for the first time.

The images may be downloaded for personal, educational and research use.

For more information about the collection, visit http://www.medfordhistorical.org/collections/civil-war.

Note: The images represent the first batch of digitized photographs, with the full collection to follow.

Locations in this Collection: