May 20, 2022

Civil War Photo Collection Now Stored at Tufts University: More than 3,600 Images Showing Life During the War Come to the University’s Digital Collections and Archives

From Tufts University:

Tufts Digital Collections and Archives has partnered with the Medford Historical Society and Museum to protect, preserve, and improve access to a treasured collection of thousands of Civil War photographs.

The photographs—all 3,693 of them—made front-page news in 1990 after they were discovered in the museum’s attic in pristine condition. Since they resurfaced, the photos have been given star-treatment: flattened and sleeved at the New England Document Conservation Center, scanned and inventoried, selectively displayed at local exhibitions, and featured in articles and books.

The collection is one of the legacies of General Samuel Crocker Lawrence, commander of the Lawrence Light Guard during the Civil War and Medford’s first mayor, who first collected the photographs.

Most recently the photographs were digitized and made accessible online to the public through Digital Commonwealth at the Boston Public Library. But physical storage—and safety—was a concern; the interim solution for many years was a filing cabinet in a bank vault.


The arrangement is not typical, he added, “but there is talk in the archives world about the fact that there are valuable collections outside of major institutions that deserve support from organizations that have expertise and infrastructure to help ensure that the materials remain safe and accessible to the communities that created them.”

Of particular importance to scholars, he suggested, is the collection’s breadth and variety. It reveals the full sweep and devastation of the Civil War, as seen and documented by some of the nation’s most prominent photographers, including George Bernard and Andrew Russell, as well as the studio photographers working under the direction of Matthew Brady.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (approx. 1170 words)

Direct to Digital Collection (via Digital Commonwealth)

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.