Lincoln portraits among ‘jewels’ of newly developed photography collection

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in Yale as well as Yale University Art Gallery are getting the Meserve-Kunhardt Collection, which is one of the country’s most historically significant photographic collections as well as the definitive collection of portraits of Abraham Lincoln.

Peter Salovey, the Yale President, said that with this great acquisition, Yale has secured its position as the premier institution for the study of American photography from Civil War to Gilded Age. He was happy that students, faculty, and scholars from across the country as well as other parts of the globe would have the scope to study this collection, learn from it, and share that knowledge.

Amassed by Frederick Hill Meserve with the help of his daughter Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt, the collection carries over 73000 items, including fifty seven thousand photographic prints, and thousands of pamphlets, books, maps as well as theater broadsides. These materials deal with the American history from the Civil War till the end of the nineteenth century and record the emergence of photography as a classifiable cultural practice.

Among the jewels of the collection are snaps of Abraham Lincoln that includes an 1863 Alexander Gardner imperial albumen photo as well as “Cooper Union” portrait by Mathew Brady. Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation executive director Peter W. Kunhardt Jr. said that their family as well the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation have offered the collection for more than a century. The Beinecke Library would now widen access to scholars and students and preserve it for years to come.

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