Prints showing important 19th-century events and social phenomena will be on view at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts from January 15 through June 8, 2008, in the special exhibition Extra! Extra! Currier & Ives and the Mass Media.
Before the widespread use of photography, the lithography firm of Currier & Ives provided the American public with visual references about newsworthy events. From images of the Civil War to fires in major American cities to notions about traditional home life, Currier and Ives became the "photojournalists" of the 19th century. The firm got its start in 1835 when Nathaniel Currier created a sensation with his print illustrating the great fire that swept through New York City's business district. In only four days, he printed thousands of copies, attempting to satisfy public demand. The firm became very successful, producing more than 8,000 different scenes of historical events, famous people, leisure activities, domestic life, and rural America. Their work influenced public opinion and helped to shape Americans' view of life in the 19th-century. The prints in the exhibit are from the museum's Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert Currier & Ives collection.