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William Munroe Special Collections at the Concord Free Public Library


For centuries, the only way a person's likeness could be captured was through a portrait.  Whether a drawing or painting, before the advent of the photograph, a portrait could memorialize a person for posterity.  While complete realism is a more recent concept, a portrait would often be a flattering representation which showed the inner essence of the subject.  A good portrait would give a glimpse of a person's character and not the fleeting expressions we see in candid photos today.  For a long time, portraits remained the domain of the wealthy and powerful.  Many of the portraits in Special Collections are of male town leaders and business men as well as historically powerful men.  While there are multiple portraits of women in our collection, many of them are unnamed.