Cousins_03399
Salem, 128 Essex Street, interior detail, east parlor, mantel, Joseph Gardner House, from the Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives
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Salem, 122 Washington Street, exterior detail, doorway, Peabody Building ,from the Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives
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From Frank Cousins Bee Hive, Salem, from the 19th Century American Trade Cards Collection at Boston Public Library
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Salem, Corner of Essex and Washington Street, showing horse-cars, from the Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Anne Berard, Reference & Outreach Services Librarian, Milford Town Library

The Frank Cousins Glass Plate Photography Collection, containing over 2500 images, became accessible via the Digital Commonwealth in June. Simply put, it is incredible.

Frank Cousins (1851-1925), a merchant and architectural photographer captured streets and buildings of Salem, Boston and Baltimore. He reserved his most intimate building and street views for “The Witch City”, Salem, his hometown. Cousins operated a dry goods shop on Essex Street, called the Bee Hive and he was an integral part of the community. Ever the entrepreneur, he also sold prints and folios in the store.He photographed facades, doorways, stairwells, fireplaces, and other building details and left behind an impressive body of work including  the only known images of some structures lost in the Salem fire of 1914. Cousins’ reputation and reach grew with the 1912 publication of Colonial Architecture, Series I, Fifty Salem Doorways.

The collection comes from the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. Meaghan Wright, Assistant Reference & Access Services Librarian and her colleagues spent months transcribing information for inclusion in the the metadata so valuable to researchers. The library also hired a digital projects initiative consultant, Jacqueline Ford Dearborn, to review plates with a lightbox and conduct a full rehousing project for the negatives.” The plates then traveled to the Boston Public Library’s Digitization Lab where their cameras brought the glass plate negatives to their new digital life we can now all access and enjoy. One of Meaghan’s favorite Cousins’ images shown above is the corner of Essex and Washington Streets. The Phillips staff is thrilled to have Cousins’ collection widely available, as their prints were previously for in-library use only.

Another of the Phillips Library collections of glass negatives, the Herman Parker Collection also became available in June. Nowhere near as encyclopedic as Cousins’ it takes us to the water. We’ll visit  that collection in a future Spotlight On… post.

 

Written by Anne Berard, Reference& Outreach Librarian, Milford Town Library

 

The multihued clay shades of Aquinnah
The multihued clay shades of Aquinnahfrom Peter Simon Collection
Simon family in doorway (left to right) David Levine, Lucy Simon with infant, Joanna Simon, Carly Simon, Andrea Simon, and dalmatian, circa 1967
Simon family in doorway from Peter Simon Collection
Cat on Peter Simon's lap, watching the Mets on TV, circa 1968
Cat on Peter Simon’s lap, watching the Mets on TV from the Peter Simon Collection
Abbie Hoffman (double exposure) speaking at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam protest on Boston Common, April 15, 1970
Abbie Hoffman (double exposure) speaking at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam protest on Boston Common, April 15, 1970 from the Peter Simon Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Simon, prolific photographer, author, chronicler of Martha’s Vineyard, and brother of singer Carly Simon, died in November 2018. Digital Commonwealth (via the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) holds more than 5000 of his photographs captured over a long, eclectic career. Simon came of age in the 1960s.  Serving in the Boston University News Office, he covered the tumultuous Vietnam War protests and the burgeoning music scene all around him. This lifelong love of music and musicians, especially reggae and Jamaican artists, isn’t surprising given that the Simon family, of Simon & Schuster publishing renown, was musically gifted. Richard Simon, the father, was a pianist, Andrea, the mother, was a singer, daughter Joanna Simon was an opera singer, and Carly and her sister Lucy performed as The Simon Sisters.

The images in this voluminous collection span various decades and cover both the political and the personal, the grand and the humble, with a similar eye. New England is depicted through Peter Simon’s lens at the Newport Jazz & Folk Festivals, anti-war demonstrations on Boston Common and at Harvard University, and a grape pickers strike at Stop & Shop Supermarket. Additionally, hundreds of photographs of the Beatles, Grateful Dead, the Doors, and Carly Simon/James Taylor concerts are here for the viewing and the nostalgia. Peter Simon wrote several books on reggae music informed by images from trips to Jamaica that show Bob Marley at home, billboards in Kingston, and musicians at work.

Throughout his life, Peter Simon photographed his passions, one of which is a love of animals. A series on cats reveals a gentleness and a sense of humor.  Felines watch the Mets on television, paw over a piano, nurse kittens, and sit atop a warm radiator. In another shot, the Simon family Dalmatian stands front and center in an impromptu front door family portrait. Simon’s wife Ronni continues to own and operate The Simon Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. For more than 30 years, Peter Simon created an annual Vineyard Calendar. Many photographs of his beloved island can be found on Digital Commonwealth.

Harper's for April
Harper’s for April
The modern poster
The modern poster
Arabella and Araminta stories
Arabella and Araminta stories
Harper's weekly, Christmas
Harper’s weekly, Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American companies took notice when French art posters became extremely popular in the 1880’s.  A new lithography process had made economical printing of large editions of posters possible.  American companies commissioned prominent illustrators like Edward Penfield, Will Bradley, Ethel Reed and Maxfield Parrish to create posters.  There is no denying the purpose of the posters was to advertise performances, exhibits, magazines, books and other products to a growing middle class.  If it also brought art to everyday life, so much the better.  And so the American Art Poster entered its golden age, 1890-1920.

Edward Penfield’s poster advertising the April 1893 Harper’s magazine (above, far left) is generally credited as starting an American poster revolution.  Unlike previous American posters, this one advertised intellectual – not commercial – product. It also was much more restrained and simpler than the French posters of the time.  Penfield included his monogram on this poster.  Later, Penfield and the other illustrators would sign their full names and printers would add their company names.  Penfield’s posters also set the precedent of doubling as magazine (or book) covers.

Will Bradley’s beautiful Art Nouveau peacock (above, center left) is a change from his frequent depictions of women in windblown gowns.  However, it demonstrates the color intensity and textural effects possible with the new lithographic process.  This image also demonstrates the influence of Japanese block printing on the Boston-born Bradley.

The always fascinating Ethel Reed was born in Newburyport, studied art in Boston and became a leading poster artist before leaving for London.  While still in Boston, she did illustrations for the local newspapers and a guide to Boston as well as book covers, like the Arabella and Araminta stories. (above, center right)

Maxfield Parrish’s Daybreak painting would go on to become the most popular art print of the 20th century.  In contrast to the saturated colors of his paintings, Parrish started out with black and white commercial art.  Some of those ads and Harper’s Weekly covers are here.  The charmingly domestic Harper’s Weekly Christmas cover (above, far right) includes a color background for its black and white image.

With over 500 images, the Boston Public Library’s American Art Posters 1890-1920 is a collection you can visit and revisit, discovering new favorites each time.

Written by Anne Berard, Reference& Outreach Librarian, Milford Town Library

Trade card for Hunt's Remedy, the great kidney & liver medicine
Hunt’s Remedy, the great kidney & liver medicine, William E. Clarke, proprietor, Providence, Rhode Island, undated from Historic New England’s EP001: Ephemera collection
Malt Bitters - the purest and best medicine in the world for nourishing and strengthening and for overcoming dyspepsia, debility and wasting diseases. The house that Jack built
Malt Bitters – the purest and best medicine in the world for nourishing and strengthening and for overcoming dyspepsia, debility and wasting diseases. The house that Jack built. from Boston Public Library’s 19th Century American Trade Card
Ayer's Sarsaparilla, Dr. J.C. Ayer & Company, Lowell, Mass.
Trade card for Ayer’s Sarsaparilla, Dr. J.C. Ayer & Company, Lowell, Mass. from Historic New England’s EP001: Ephemera collection

While the earliest advertising cards first circulated in London, Lyon and Paris in the late 17th century, advances in color lithography and printing in the 19th century made them easier to produce and more ubiquitous. Everything from soap, thread, perfume, hats, shoes, coffee, candy and more were marketed in these stylized cards.  Digital Commonwealth has more than 3700 unique images in its collection. Some of the most entertaining and possibly alarming, cards were for tonics and health remedies that might belong in the annals of medical quackery. Blood-purifying agents were all the rage.

Hunt’s Remedy (above, left) claimed that it was“never known to fail” and cured dropsy (edema), liver, bladder, kidney and urinary problems. It was produced by William E. Clarke of Providence, Rhode Island. The graphics show a shirtless man fighting off the Grim Reaper.

Boasting of health and sunny hours, an Ayers Sarsaparilla (above, center) card from 1902 featured a lovely woman in Victorian dress holding a tot on her shoulder. Dr. J.C. Ayers operated in Lowell, MA. Sarsaparilla root is still used today in some herbal medicines to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Touting itself as the “purest and best medicine in the world” for overcoming dyspepsia, debility, and wasting diseases was Malt Bitters of Boston, MA.  (above, right) Their detailed card also promised “stimulation without intoxication.”  Playing off the theme of the House that Jack Built, the card has charming artwork, attractive lettering and tells a complete story.

In time, radio ads were a more modern means to reach a larger audience and trade cards fell out of fashion. Larger companies still produced catalogs and smaller enterprises converted to smaller business cards and matchbooks.

To see the complete collection of 19th Century American Trade Cards, begin here.

by Mary Bell, Assistant Director
Wilbraham Public Library

Allyn Delos Seaver and Cassius Benedict
A. Delos Seaver and Cassius Benedict from the Glendale Collection

The Glendale Collection is a treasure-trove of local history and genealogy, and is the newest in the Wilbraham Public Library’s collections in the Digital Commonwealth.

The collection was in an unlabeled box of miscellaneous photographs found among our uncatalogued collections. We gave it the name Glendale Collection because several of the people and places featured were from that section of town, up the mountain on Glendale and Monson roads.

Genealogists especially would be interested in the portrait photographs of families that lived in that area. Seavers, Bennetts and Benedicts are among those featured. This one of Allyn Delos Seaver and his brother-in-law Cassius Benedict is one of the oldest in our collection, as Cassius died in 1872. They were both trustees of Glendale Methodist Church. In addition to the men’s dapper dress, I love the detail of the patterned floor they’re standing on.

Glendale Memorial Boulder dedication
Glendale Memorial Boulder dedication from the Glendale Collection

Most of the photographs in the collection are from the early 1900s. Several feature the ceremony on June 20, 1913, unveiling a memorial boulder for Wilbraham veterans at Glendale Cemetery, an event that served as the third day of festivities during Wilbraham’s 150th celebration. Though unnamed, the men in this photograph were veterans of the Civil War, and were honored in the ceremonies that day.

These are just a few highlights that can be found in these and other photographs in Wilbraham’s local history collection. We only digitized photographs we were reasonably sure were in the public domain, so if you’re interested in seeing more come to the Wilbraham Library during our regular hours and we’d be happy to give you access to the full collection.

This post was written by Anne Berard, Reference & Outreach Librarian, Milford Town Library

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 1923 from the Sacco-Vanzetti Collection, 1915-1977
Search spectators for weapons at trial of Sacco and Vanzetti
Search spectators for weapons at trial of Sacco and Vanzetti from the Sacco-Vanzetti Collection, 1915-1977
Paris France petition, Sacco Vanzetti
Paris France petition, Sacco Vanzetti from the Sacco-Vanzetti Collection, 1915-1977
Huge crowds attend Sacco-Vanzetti funeral from the Sacco-Vanzetti Collection, 1915-1977
Huge crowds attend Sacco-Vanzetti funeral from the Sacco-Vanzetti Collection, 1915-1977

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say the names of the infamous duo, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker and most people immediately think of the bank-robbing couple and their fatal shootout with police. Their guilt and defiance were never in doubt for either the public or the law.  Another of history’s infamous duos, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, conjures up far more complicated associations.  There’s the 1920 armed robbery and double murder at a shoe company in Braintree, the contentious trial in Dedham with blatant anti-immigrant bias and a hostile judge, the lengthy incarceration in Charlestown, and finally, their execution in 1927.

The case of these two Italian-American anarchists gripped the nation and the world in real time and has continued to be debated and studied by scholars nearly 100 years later.  The Aldino Felicani Sacco-Vanzetti Collection available via Digital Commonwealth is a massive compilation of photographs, court documents, correspondence, and protest materials all related to Sacco and Vanzetti.  More than 1000 items are available for either browsing by topic or for doing a deep dive into the world of these men. Governor Michael Dukakis in 1977 – on the 50th anniversary of their execution – issued a proclamation in both English and Italian stating that the pair had not received a fair trial and that lessons should be learned from their unusual case.

Among the most poignant pages in the collection are the hundreds of letters Sacco and Vanzetti wrote to their families, compadres, and each other while imprisoned.   Also worth a look for the sheer size of the crowds are the photographs of their funeral procession where over 200,000 people poured into Boston streets in a show of solidarity with the men.  The funeral route passed by the State House before arriving at Forest Hills Cemetery where the bodies were cremated.

After being sentenced to death by electric chair by Judge Thayer, Nicola Sacco spoke out in court, declaring, “You know I am innocent. Those are the same words I pronounced seven years ago. You condemn two innocent men.”