Yale Acquires Large 19th-Century Photography Collection


Photo by Kirsten Luce for the New York TimesPhoto by Kirsten Luce for the New York Times

Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired one of the largest private collections of 19th-century American photography, primarily devoted to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Yale made the purchase from the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation, which has collected and preserved the photographs and other materials for five generations. The collection includes more than 57,000 prints and thousands of books, pamphlets, maps, and other ephemera. Highlights include a large-format albumen print of Lincoln by Alexander Gardner from 1863 and glass negative of Mathew Brady’s portrait of Lincoln with his son, Tad. 

The material will be divided between the Yale Art Museum and the Beinecke. The extensive collection has been the source for such projects as The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, recently published by Steidl and edited by Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., and Jeff Rosenheim’s 2013 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photography and the American Civil War.