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While the photographic process and the principles of modern photography were invented in the early 1820's, it wasn't until just before the American Civil War that photography became available and affordable to the populace. By the 1850's, photography had found a creative niche in the quickly-industrializing United States. It took the images of Civil War photographers like Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardener and Samuel Cooley to put a real face on the price of war.

Almost 150 years later, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) is about to take another major step in Civil War photography. The Heritage Center has long been known as the world's largest repository of Civil photographs through collections held in its archival repository - the Military History Institute. On November 9th, 2009, USAHEC will unveil the digitized photograph collection of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States from the Massachusetts Commandery to the world. The collection will be accessible for research through the USAHEC's on-line catalog available at the USAHEC website (

"This collection is truly unique and considered the single best Civil War photograph collection in the world," stated the USAHEC's photo curator, Molly Bompane. "Now not only have we preserved this collection for future generations, we have made it much more accessible to the many researchers and enthusiasts around the globe who have an interest in the Civil War." The images from the collection have been used in hundreds of scholarly and popular histories as well as playing a key role in the popular Ken Burns public television series on the Civil War.

The release of this digital collection comes at a very good time as the country prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this critical period in our nation's history from 2011-2015. Now millions of people around the world will have the opportunity to see the faces of some of the soldiers who fought for their beliefs and the freedoms that we enjoy today in the United States.

Click here to view samples of the MOLLUS Collection in our Image Gallery

To view the entire collection, Visit the Digital Archive and click on the "MOLLUS- Massachusetts Photograph Collection" link.