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Mathew B. Brady studio portrait photograph collection

Call Number

PR 85


1856-1869 (bulk, 1861-1869), inclusive


Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896


6.5 Linear feet (12 boxes)

Language of Materials

This collection is primarily visual. Any text is likely to be in English.


Studio proofs of Imperial format and carte-de-visite format portraits taken by the Mathew B. Brady Studio in New York City.

Biographical Note

Mathew B. Brady, the best-known American photographer of his generation, operated portrait studios in New York from 1844 to 1875. Brady began his career as a daguerreotypist. He was located at 205-207 Broadway (at Fulton Street) from 1844 until 1858, ran a second New York studio at 359 Broadway (between White and Franklin Streets) from 1853 through 1860, and a third studio at 643 Broadway (at Bleecker Street) from 1859 to 1860. All New York operations were consolidated in the fall of 1860 in Brady's fourth and final studio, named the "National Portrait Gallery," located at 785 Broadway (at Tenth Street). Brady generally did not take the photographs himself, but employed teams of uncredited camera operators, processors, and colorists in each of his studios who produced the actual images for which he is famous. Brady also operated portrait studios in Washington, D.C., and is known for the hundreds of photographs taken during the American Civil War by other photographers that were issued by the Brady Studio.


This collection is organized in two series:

Series I. Imperial format portraits
Series II. Carte-de-visite format portraits

Oversize material from Series I follows Series II.

Scope and Contents

The Mathew B. Brady Studio Portrait Photograph Collection contains approximately 6,000 proof portraits of men, women, and children who were photographed in Brady's New York studios between the mid-1850s and the late 1860s. The portraits in this collection were those kept by the studio as a visual patron record, and are nearly all labeled with the last name of the sitter or sitters. The prints are unmounted and were formerly housed in albums.

For more detailed information about this collection, see the article by Sandra Markham, "Figments of a Mighty Past: Mathew Brady Portrait Photographs at the New-York Historical Society," in The New-York Journal of American History, volume 65, number 1, Spring 2003, pages 80-102.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Mathew B. Brady Studio Portrait Photograph Collection, PR 85, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Related Materials

For related material, see additional work by the Brady Studio in the Print Room's Album file (PR-002), Carte-de-Visite File (PR-011), Cased Photograph File (PR-012), Portrait File (PR-052), Imperial Portrait Photograph File (PR-210), Civil War Photograph File (PR-164), and Meserve Historical Portraits (PR-231). Additional portraits of people in this file might also be found in those collections.

Collection processed by

Sandra Markham and Kelly McAnnaney

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:47:53 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from brady.xml


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024