The Meserve-Kunhardt Collection chiefly consists of photographic material, as well as papers and realia that document the work of Frederick Hill Meserve. A collector and distributor of photographs from 1897 to his death in 1962, Meserve built an extensive collection of material related to Abraham Lincoln as well as other persons, sites, and events of the long nineteenth century. The collection also documents the stewardship and development of the collection from 1962 to 2015 by his descendants, especially his daughter, Dorothy Turner Meserve Kunhardt. The material in the collection provides rich visual documentation of United States history, especially persons, sites, and events during the American Civil War, and details the emergence of photography as a distinctive cultural practice into the early twentieth century.
Cased images in the Meserve-Kunhard Collection chiefly consists of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes mounted primarily in contemporary decorative cases mainly collected by Meserve and Kunhardt during the twentieth century. The collection contains 259 entries for individual items or small collections of related material that document photographic processes and presentation techniques primarily in the United States from circa 1845 to circa 1867. In the fall of 2021, CCH undertook a project to house 238 cased images in the Meserve-Kunhardt Collection. Considering the scope of the collection and the fact that most of the cased images fall under five standard-sizes, CCH adopted a standard-size storage approach to maximize space and time.
Five standard-sizes of portfolios were created to correspond with the sizes of cased images. Each cased image was housed in one of these portfolios made by the Kasemake machine. Interior supports made of Volara were added to further secure objects. Multiple portfolios were then housed together in a pre-fabricated shoe box. Custom bumpers were constructed from Ethafoam, Volara, and B flute Corrugated Board to improve security and ease of handling.