This image features Lincoln at the center of the frame, and is the only known photo of his second inauguration. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Meserve-Kunhardt Collection

Yale has announced the acquisition of the Meserve-Kunhardt Collection, which is comprised of more than 73,000 items including portraits of Abraham Lincoln. The collection was assembled by Frederick Hill Meserve, called America's first photograph collector, and his daughter Dorothy Meserve, and serves to document American history spanning from the Civil War up to the end of the 19th century. This includes an extensive look at photography as it developed over the decades, with approximately 57,000 prints being included within the collection.

The collection is being acquired by the Yale University Art Gallery and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, with the Lincoln portraits, including those taken by Alexander Gardner and Mathew Brady, hailed as the 'jewels' of the acquisition. Other photographs include additional notable figures from history, however, such as Susan B. Anthony, a variety of army officers, politicians, Native Americans and actors, among others.

Said Yale professor Laura Wexler, 'This archive not only chronicles life in 19th-century America, it traces the emergence of photography as a distinctively modern medium of record and of art.' Before arriving at Yale, the collection - which took six decades to amass - had been passed through five generations of the Kunhardt and Meserve families. 

The collection hasn't yet arrived at Yale, with the expected delivery being in this upcoming fall. Following that, some of the collection will be available for research purposes in summer 2016. Some of the images will be showcased in the art gallery, while the rest of the collection will be located at the library.