Library's Oldest Historic Photographs Digitized

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Library's Oldest Historic Photographs Digitized

Unique Portraits and 3D Views of District Landmarks in Dig DC

DC Public Library Special Collections is pleased to announce the digitization of its collection of stereoviews, cartes de visite, and cabinet cards. These unique photographic formats from the late 19th and early 20th century include many of the oldest photographic portraits and views of the district in the library’s collection and are now available for research and reuse in Dig DC.

The cartes de visite and cabinet cards include portraits taken by various photographers and studios from approximately 1880 to 1900. These small images were primarily portraits mounted on cardboard and given to friends and family by the sitter. DC Public Library's collection depicts mostly men, including individuals with penny-farthing bicycles and uniformed members of the National Rifles, an independent D.C. militia organized in 1859.

Stereoviews were a popular photographic format from the late 19th century consisting of two nearly identical images mounted side-by-side. When viewed through a stereoscope, the images merge in the viewer’s vision to create a single three-dimensional scene. Stereoviews in the library’s collection show popular Washington, D.C. landmarks, monuments, government buildings, and art from approximately 1860 to 1910.

Explore the digitized Stereoview Photograph Collection and Cartes de visite and cabinet card portraits in Dig DC.