Pond Street. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Oak View Terrace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hosted

Harvested:
* re-harvest

Boston Public Library

Cape Cod Community College

Barnstable Patriot Photograph Collection, 1931-1978 (1,223 items)*

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives

Commonwealth v. Sacco and Vanzetti (763 items)

Wilbraham Public Library

Wilbraham Library Trustees Minutes (353 items)

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Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

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Shirley Chisholm

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Ayanna Pressley

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Lucy Stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of special and timely interest in November’s New Collections are photographs from an exhibit, A Seat at the Table, held in 2019 at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. This colorful and compelling exhibit was inspired by the pioneering firebrand Shirley Chisholm’s call for greater involvement of women, people of color and other activists in policy decision making.  “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”  Indeed, Shirley’s chair is a bright yellow folding chair. Conceptual artists created chairs to represent other voices, some from current times such as Congresswomen Ayanna Presley and Deb Haaland, and actress Yara Shahidi. Others depict heroes of the past like abolitionist Lucy Stone, and labor organizer Cesar Chavez.  See all 24 images here.

 

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate – A Seat at the Table (24 items)

Boston Public Library – Charles J. Connick Records: Gouaches (1 item)*

Boston Public Library – The Liberator (Boston, Mass. : 1831-1865) (837 items)*

Malden Public Library – Malden Houses (286 items)

Uxbridge Historical Society – Child Support Bond (1 item)

 

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Aerial View of Norwood Hospital

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Ellen F. O’Connor Collection

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Men in convertible, including JFK

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Harold & Marian Draper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Public Library

Ellen F. O’Connor was an art teacher in the Boston Public Schools system, teaching at the Prince School and later West Roxbury High School. In addition to her work as an educator, she was a passionate participant in the cultural life of Boston. She was a gifted singer, a soloist at the Mission Church and a member of the Handel and Haydn Society, and also gave an annual lecture on Irish art at the Boston Public Library. An avid world traveler throughout her life, she took advantage of a progressive Boston Public Schools policy to take two sabbatical years to travel and to study and to learn about other cultures. Her personal enrichment served to inspire her many students during the course of her long career.

This collection includes small, medium, and large format negatives taken by Boston press photographers dating from the 1920s through the early 1970s. It was amassed by photojournalist Dennis Brearley during the course of his career as a working photographer. From 1978 to 2012, Mr. Brearley and his wife Susan ran a photo gallery in Faneuil Hall selling prints from his photographs and the work of other press photographers in his collection. In 2013, Hunt Auctions began the process of selling the collection in lots. The Ten Pounds Collection, as it is affectionately dubbed, was purchased at auction by John Booras, a local Boston collector and amateur historian. The nickname of the collection is derived from the lot description, which consisted of the remainders of the original collection that were not deemed marketable; the lot was described and sold by weight rather than content.

The Tichnor Brothers Collection contains approximately 25,000 office proofs of postcards of the United States published by the Boston firm Tichnor Brothers Inc. These are color postcards with a linen texture dated ca. 1930-1945. The concentration is on American vacation places.

Wayland Historical Society

Alfred W. Cutting (1860-1935), although born and educated in Boston, had a deep connection to Wayland. Five generations of Cuttings had lived in Wayland since the arrival of his great-great-great-grandfather in 1713. His father, Charles Cutting, owned considerable property along Old Sudbury Road and the family was often there despite the fact that both Alfred and his father worked in Boston (Charles as a stationer and Alfred as a bank teller). Alfred got to know many people in his neighborhood of Old Sudbury Road and Glezen Lane and frequented the home of his childhood idol, Lydia Maria Child — the noted abolitionist and author — and her husband David Lee Child. Later he and his sister, Marcia, lived in her former home.

Cutting’s contributions to Wayland are lasting. He served as Wayland’s unofficial historian in the early 20th century, giving speeches and writing pamphlets on its past. For many years he served as a trustee of the Wayland Public Library and was active in the First Parish Church. In 1905, he founded the Society of Wayland Arts and Crafts.

Boston Children’s Museum Scrapbooks from the American History Collection (1 item)*

Boston Public Library

Coast Guard Heritage Museum

Historical Society of Old Yarmouth Archives and Local History Collection (3,257 items)*

Jamaica Plain Historical Society

Doyle’s Cafe Memorabilia (24 items) *

*  items ingested into existing collection

 

 

Written by Patricia Feeley

WAFS Pilot 1 paper doll in military outfit
WAFS Pilot 1 paper doll in outfits from Lawrence Public Library

WAFS Pilot 1 paper doll in mufti
WAFS Pilot 1 paper doll from Lawrence Public Library

The holiday season was celebrated at Digital Commonwealth by adding some interesting collections.  Our biggest contributors, Boston Public Library and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, of course, did their bit.  But let’s highlight our other two contributors.

The Jamaica Plain Historical Society performed a good deed for all Bostonians by sponsoring the digitization of the Doyle’s Café memorabilia.  When that 137-year-old institution closed in October 2019, many of the pub’s decorations and ephemera were auctioned off.  JPHS made sure a record was made before they all disappeared into private collections.  Thank you!

The Lawrence Public Library has been a frequent and welcome contributor.  This month’s collection, the Phyllis Tyler Paper Doll Collection, is another set of seldom seen ephemera.  If the fashions didn’t give away the fact that this set is from the 1940’s, the celebrity dolls – Betty Grable and Ava Gardner – would.  Perhaps most striking is the WAFS (Women’s Air Force) pilot dolls in both military and mufti (left and right respectively).  Yes, women did their bit in World War II, too.

My very first post on the Digital Commonwealth blog was an interview with Louise Sandberg of the Lawrence Public Library.  She was knowledgeable, encouraging and funny.  She was a perfect first interview.  I’ve interviewed other members since and they have been universally enthusiastic about their collections and digitizing through DC.

I am grateful to all of them, although maybe a little more grateful to Alison Basset and Sarah Hayes of the Trustees for introducing me to one of my favorite images (Studio portrait of unidentified woman in black dress and monocle with cigarette posing with Great Dane; whip and globe on floor, which has as great a backstory as it is a photo.) and to Dick Rowley of the Granville Public Library, a dedicated correspondent and proof, if you need it, that a small library can have a big impact thanks to social media crowdsourcing, the Granville Historic Image Library, partnering with local history organizations and more.

It’s been an honor to be editor of this blog for three years and it is a joy to know I’m passing the editorship on to someone who loves the collections and finds our members just as fascinating as I did.  (Good luck, Anne!)

You were all inspirational to me.  I hope I did you some justice in these postings.

Boston Public Library
Paintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library – 10 items added to existing collection

Jamaica Plain Historical Society
Doyle’s Cafe Memorabilia – 111 items

Lawrence Public Library
Phyllis Tyler Paper Doll Collection – 258 items

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives
27 new collections; 23,055 new items re-harvested

108 Book Fair Exhibit 1940
108 Book Fair Exhibit 1940 from Boston Children’s Museum Lantern Slides

Let us give thanks for November’s new collections.  And additions to existing collections.  But I was most taken with two of our new collections: Boston Children’s Museum Lantern Slides and the Washington Historical Commission Collection.

Many of the lantern slides are hand-colored, giving unnaturally rosy cheeks to all captured in the image.   I never knew the Children’s Museum started in Jamaica Plain, but you can see in the image at left that it was still there in 1940.  Not that the museum was parochial – you’ll see Images of international exhibits on Egypt, China and Scandinavia for a few.

The Washington Historical Commission Collection is a wonderful collection of images, texts and ephemera.  The Reward of Merit (Below right) is something I’ve never seen.  Apparently, they were handed out by teachers to students.  Who wouldn’t settle down to their studies if they were given certificates like this?

 

 

Reward of Merit from the Washington Historical Commission Messenger Collection
Reward of Merit from the Washington Historical Commission Messenger Collection

Boston Children’s Museum
Boston Children’s Museum Lantern Slides – 350 items

Boston Public Library
Paintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library – 5 items added to existing collection

Harvard Law School Library
Sacco-Vanzetti Collections -153 items added to existing collection

The Medford Historical Society & Museum
The Medford Historical Society Civil War Collection – 320 items
The Medford Historical Society Civil War Photograph Collection – 95 items added to existing collection

Southeast Asian Digital Archive – 4 collections, 337 items re-harvested

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library – 80 items re-harvested

Washington Historical Commission
Washington Historical Commission Collection – 573 items

Champions, 1917
Champions, 1917 from Boston Latin School

The Boston Public Library went to town in October, adding three new collections and adding new items to three existing collections, for over 1,000 items total.  But Digital Commonwealth did not neglect its smaller members.  Boston Latin School, Sturgis Library, Weymouth Public Libraries and Wilbraham Public Library all added from 1 to 952 items to the Digital Commonwealth universe.

This includes the image on the left.  We know these five young men and two coaches were champions in 1917, but of what?  No matter how much I enlarge the photo, I can’t make out the inscription. The athletes are wearing heavy wool sweaters with their shorts plus pretty gnarly socks.  The only hint is the surprisingly-impressive-for-a-high-school trophy.  The Roman (Greek?) god appears to be holding what looks to me like a crew oar crowned with a laurel wreath.  I vote for crew champions.  What do you think?

 

Boston Latin School
Boston Latin School Photograph Collection – 15 items

Boston Public Library
Colonial and Revolutionary Boston (Collection of Distinction) – 2 items added to existing collection
George Bellows (1882-1925). Prints and Drawings – 158 items added to existing collection
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). Etchings – 114 items
Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts (Collection of Distinction) – 1 item added to existing Collection
Thomas Prince Library and Collection of the Old South Church – 46 items
Victoria Woodhull Martin Papers, 1883-1927 – 776 items

Sturgis Library
Stanley Smith Deed Collection – 952 items

Weymouth Public Libraries
Weymouth Public Libraries Historical Photograph Collection – 3 items added to existing collection

Wilbraham Public Library
Wilbraham Town Archives Photographic Collection – 1 item added to existing collection

The library
The library The Fine Arts Collection of The Winsor School

Those lazy, hazy days of August brought us some fascinating new collections.  Appropriately, the Falmouth Public Library contributed over 2,000 postcards.  If you’re missing the beach already, take a look.  The Winsor School added close to 200 items from its Fine Arts Collection, including this Jacob Lawrence print of the school library (left).

The Brockton Public Library added 7 illustrations from the Shoe Industry in Brockton, Massachusetts.  The Boston Public Library uploaded a few small collections plus over 2,000 photographs from the Richard Merrill Collection.  Richard Merrill was fascinated by radio, which explains the interestingly titled photo below.  Spreading New England’s Fame was a program on the old WNAC radio station in Boston.

Finally, the University of Massachusetts/Boston re-harvested over 12,000 items in 4 collections.  Speaking of radio, the Lecco’s Lemma collection within the Massachusetts Hip Hop Archive is comprised of demo audio tapes for rap artists sent to the Lecco’s Lemma radio show as well as some audio tapes of the program.  Not to mention the W. Arthur Garrity chambers papers on the Boston Schools Desegregation Case – always of interest to students and historians.

Accordion players  on Spreading New England's Fame radio program
Accordion players, Spreading New England’s Fame Richard Merrill Collection, BPL

Boston Public Library
Carte de Visite Collection – 2 items added to existing collection
Ellen F. O’Connor Collection – 144 items
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection – 8 items added to existing collection
Richard Merrill Collection – 2,289 items

Brockton Public Library
Illustrations from the Shoe Industry in Brockton, Massachusetts – 7 items

Falmouth Public Library
Falmouth Public Library Historical Postcard Collection – 2,296 items

University of Massachusetts Boston
Joseph P. Healey Library – 4 new collections; 12,673 new items re-harvested

The Winsor School
The Fine Arts Collection of The Winsor School – 185 items

 

Bradford street
Bradford St. from
Lawrence, Mass. Before Urban Renewal Photograph Collection

One of our favorite contributors, Lawrence Public Library, added to several existing collections as well as added new collections in July.  One of which is the Lawrence, Mass. Before Urban Renewal Photograph Collection.  Lawrence hired a photography studio to document the first area targeted for urban renewal, so we have photos like the one of Bradford Street (Right) showing what was slated for demolition.

On a happier note, the Cambridge Historical Commission added 278 items to their Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection.  Sometimes the captions only add to the mystery of the photos.  One of my favorites is Cambridge “Sparks” and his radio scooter.  (Below left)

Cambridge Sparks and his radio scooter
Cambridge “Sparks” and his radio scooter from Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection

July also saw contributions to existing collections at the Boston Public Library, Harvard Law School Library, a major re-harvesting from Amherst College and a new collection from the South Hadley Public Library. (Below listings.)  We hope all Massachusetts cultural institutions will continue to contribute new and to existing collections.  It makes for a better Digital Commonwealth, which, as you can see, is already pretty amazing.

Amherst College
23 new collections re-harvested; 3,290 new items added to existing collections

Boston Public Library
The Liberator (Boston, Mass. : 1831-1865) – 261 items added to existing collection

Cambridge Historical Commission
Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection – 278 items added to existing collection

Harvard Law School Library
Sacco-Vanzetti Collections – 133 items many to existing collection

Lawrence Public Library
Ayer Mill Spinning Department – 1 item added to existing collection
Franklin Associates – 1 item added to existing collection
George P. Farrell – 1 item
Lawrence British Club, Lawrence, Mass. – 1 item
Lawrence, Mass. Before Urban Renewal Photograph Collection – 132 items
Lawrence, Mass. Engineering Department. Plans and associated papers – 39 items added to existing collection
Lawrence, Mass. Flood of 1936 – 2 items added to existing collection
Lawrence, Mass. Panorama Photographs – 4 items added to existing collection
Lawrence, Mass., Water Department – 4 items
Lawrence School Photographs – 1 item
St. Mary’s High School, Lawrence, Mass. – 1 item

South Hadley Public Library
South Hadley Postcard Collection – 101 items

Mount Holyoke, Summit House
Mt. Holyoke, Summit House from South Hadley Postcard Collection