Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum's rare book collection reflects the interests of the Library as it has narrowed its focus from being encyclopedic in the 19th century to its current focus on the humanities. While there are surprising examples of early works on many subjects in the Athenæum, researchers should expect to find depth in certain specific subject areas. Early American history is a particular strength with early American imprints, 18th and 19th century tracts, early American broadsides, publications in Native American languages, early Boston newspapers, and one of the largest collections in the Unites States of imprints of the Confederate States of America. The Prints and Photographs Department is primarily a historical documentation collection, whose holdings provide a unique visual record of New England cultural and political life. It is particularly strong in prints, photographs, and architectural drawings depicting the built environment and topography of Boston and New England in the nineteenth century. In addition, the department also has a fine collection of prints and photographs of the Civil War as well as political cartoons, portraits, and historical prints that chronicle American national history.