It's been a 150 years since the Civil War came to an end, but the Library of Congress is now just getting its hands on hundreds of rare and vivid photographs that document the most turbulent time in the nation's history. NY1’s Michael Scotto filed the following report.

“This is a very dramatic shot,” said Gay Colyer of the Library of Congress.

She’s talking about incredibly rare photographic images of slaves.

One photo is one of the first of an African-American church.

“Somebody has caught them at a really private moment,” said Colyer.

Others, recently acquired by the Library of Congress, show African-American women holding new-born babies at around the start of the Civil War.

“We have in the Library of Congress many oral history narratives from former slaves talking about the life, but to be able to enrich that picture with photographic record again, it makes it more real and vivid to people,” said Helena Zinkham of the Library of Congres.

The Library recently purchased nearly 550 hard-to-come-by photos for an undisclosed amount from Robin Stanford, an 87-year-old Texas woman who has been collecting Civil War photos since the 1970s.

“There are a few that have been through fire,” said Zinkham.

The photos, taken by southern photographers, have survived more than 150 years of changing hands.They capture dead Confederate soldiers, bombed forts and President Lincoln's multi-city funeral procession.

Stereographs make up the vast majority of the collection. They're 3D photos that come to life when looked at through a stereo viewer.

The images are rich and incredibly detailed.

Bob Zeller of North Carolina is an expert in Civil War photography and helped Stanford sell her collection.

“These are some of the first images that really brought the war home,” said Zeller.

“The stereoview, the 3D photograph, was what I like to call the video of Civil War America,” said Zeller.

Back at the Library of Congress, the staff is working to gather as much information as it can about the photos, photos that are shedding new light on one of the nation's darkest periods.

“The cumulative 550, I hope it lights its own fire of interest,” said Zinkham.