Illustrated newspapers, filled with wood engraved images, made their appearance in the United States in the 1850s. Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, and Harper's Weekly covered every topic that their readers might be interested in. Their ability to provide articles and images in a very timely manner made them the perfect media from which Americans could get their news of domestic and international events and then beginning in 1861, copious coverage of the US Civil War.
The images in these newspapers were often based on photographs or first-hand drawings, so they were not only timely, but accurate as well. As the publishers of one paper explained, "The proprietors of Harper's Weekly beg to state that they have made the most extensive arrangements for the illustration of future movements at the South, and that the public may rely upon finding in Harper's Weekly an accurate and reliable picture of every scene of interest to which occurrences may direct attention." As they provided an important source of information to the public during the war, so too they provide us today with some of the best contemporary documentation of mid and late 19th century America.