Champlain Exploring the Canadian Wilderness

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZ62-3019 Annotation: This print shows Samuel de Champlain and two companions looking at a river as Indians carry the canoes to the shore. Born in the small Atlantic port of Brouage around 1580 to a Protestant family (although he became a Catholic), Samuel de Champlain fought in Henri IV’s army…

Exercises of the Youths

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZ62-37992 Annotation: This engraving shows native youths shooting arrows, throwing balls at target placed atop tall pole, and running races. Year: 1591

Pocahontas (Reproduction of 1616 Original)

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-D416-18753 Annotation: This image is taken from a painting made of the Native American woman popularly known as Pocahontas, from a painting by William Sheppard. The portrait is dated 1616, coinciding with her only voyage to England in June of that year. The image is one of two strikingly similar…

The Dances at their Great Feasts

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZ62-37992 Annotation: This engraving shows native youths shooting arrows, throwing balls at target placed atop tall pole, and running races. Year: 1591

The First Americans

Title Pg, 2nd Part Saducismus Triumphatus: Or Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: 11015941 Annotation: Fearing that a decline in the belief of malevolent spirits and witches which were believed to plague humanity would lead to the ultimate demise of Christianity, English clergyman and philosopher Joseph Glanville wrote the Saducismus Triumphatus as an attempt to prove the existence of the supernatural by scientific…

George Washington’s Diary

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: diary-image Museum Number: Annotation: Both a manuscript and a printed book, George Washington’s 1762 almanac records activities at his Mount Vernon plantation. He describes mainly planting tobacco and raising cattle and sheep, although finance and slaves are also mentioned. Washington kept a diary from 1747, when he was a teen aged surveyor,…

Gravestone of William Dickson

Credit: University of New Hampshire Media type: gravestone Museum Number: Annotation: William Dickson gravestone Year: 1692

Massacre of the Protestant Martyrs at the Bridge Over the River Bann in Ireland

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: Annotation: Shown here is a depiction of the murder by Irish Catholics of approximately one hundred Protestants from Loughgall Parish, County Armagh, at the bridge over the River Bann near Portadown, Ulster. This atrocity occurred at the beginning of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Having held the Protestants as…

Baptism of Pocahontas, 1614

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: painting Museum Number: Annotation: Like the other seventeenth-century British colonies, Virginia aspired to convert the native populations. The Virginia Company’s instructions to its governors required them to make conversion one of their objectives. The most famous early convert was Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, head of the Powhatan Confederacy. Pocahontas was baptized by…

Death of Columbus, 1502

Credit: Architect of the Capitol Media type: doors Museum Number: Annotation: The Columbus Doors that stand at the east entrance of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda are an imposing sight. They stand nearly 17 feet tall and weigh 20,000 pounds. The artist was Randolph Roger, and his alto-relief bronze doors make a powerful statement about not only their subject,…

Dowry for Montezuma’s Daughter (Hernando Cortés)

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: letter-image Museum Number: Annotation: In this document, Hernando Cortés justifies a large dowry to Doña Isabel, the late Emperor Montezuma’s (1480?-1520) eldest daughter, when she married a nobleman of considerable standing in New Spain. Cortés recounts the importance of Montezuma’s aid to the Spanish during the conquest of Mexico. Cortés, who served…

Colonial Era

The Car of History

Credit: Architect of the Capitol Media type: statue Museum Number: Annotation: House of Representatives statue; Clio, the Muse of History, stands in a winged chariot representing the passage of time and records events as they occur. The car rests on a marble globe on which signs of the Zodiac are carved in relief. The chariot wheel is the…

The Old Plantation

Credit: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum Media type: painting Museum Number: Year: 1790

Woman Mourning By Tomb

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: painting Museum Number: LC-USZC4-1840 Year: 1842

Liberty (in the Form of the Goddess of Youth; Giving Support To the Bald Eagle)

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZ62-15369 Annotation: This image depicts an allegory of American liberty. Liberty is represented by a young woman in a windblown diaphanous dress and garlanded with flowers in the form of the goddess Hebe, who is offering a cup to a swooping eagle, symbol of the proud new nation, descending from…

Early National Period

Anti-Slavery Meeting On the Boston Common From Gleason’s Pictorial

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: Annotation: The illustration is from a popular nineteenth-century publication. It shows reformer Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) addressing an April 11,1851 meeting to protest the case of Thomas Sims, a fugitive slave being tried in Boston. A fiery and persuasive orator, Phillips was a member of the Boston Committee of Vigilance…

John Brown Lithograph

Credit: US National Park Service Media type: lithograph Museum Number: Annotation: John Brown Year: 1867

Home Sweet Home

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZC4-1661 Annotation: Image of an American family relaxing on a porch, c.1877. Year: 1877

The First Step from Godey’s Lady’s Book

Credit: Hope Greenberg, University of Vermont Media type: engraving Museum Number: Annotation: An engraving showing a child taking his/her first steps. Godey’s Lady’s Book enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 19th century as a monthly periodical intended primarily for women. Each issue featured articles on ladies fashion, images of engraved artwork, and poetry by prominent artists of the period….

Jim Crow Jubilee

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZ62-37348 Annotation: Jim Crow Jubilee Year: 1847

Captured By Indians

Credit: The Saint Louis Art Museum. Bequest of Arthur C. Hoskins Media type: painting Museum Number: Year: 1848

Pre-Civil War

Plantation Economy in the Old South

Credit: The Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama Media type: painting Museum Number: Annotation: Plantation Life Year: 1876

The Slave Sale

Credit: Cosmopolitan Magazine [number 38, December 1904] Media type: engraving Museum Number: Annotation: Though the Atlantic slave trade ceased legally importing slaves on 1 January 1808, the earliest date allowed by the US Constitution, the practice of slavery and the sale of slaves in the United States continued until President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on the first…

The Negro Woman’s Appeal to Her White Sisters

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: broadside Museum Number: Portfolio 65, Folder 8 Annotation: Antislavery broadside created and published in London, 1850. With the increasing size of the abolotionist movement came the use of handbills and broadsides appealing directly to women of all races. Invoking powerful imagery, such as the supplicating figure shown in this broadside, were intended to…


Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles Media type: photograph Museum Number: Year: 1862

$150 Reward For Runaway

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: advertisement Museum Number: Portfolio 22, Folder 12b Annotation: Advertisement run in Kentucky newspaper ofering up to a $150 reward for the return of a runaway slave named Henry May. Even with the passage of fugitive slave legislature in the mid 19th century and the persistant use of “slave catchers”, advertisements offering rewards for…

Slavery in America


Credit: Architect of the Capitol Media type: fresco Museum Number: Annotation: Capitol fresco Year: 1865

In the Swamp

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: painting Museum Number: LC-USZC4-2522 Year: 1863

Rather Die Freemen Than Live To Be Slaves–3rd United States Colored Troops

Credit: Library of Congress Media type: engraving Museum Number: LC-USZ62-23098 Annotation: The 3rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment was the first regiment to be formed in 1863 in compliance with Abraham Lincoln’s executive order known as the Emancipation Proclamation which allowed African-Americans, including freed slaves, to join the Union army. Consisting of 11 regiments and two companies of infantry…