Fences
Fences from the Leslie Jones Collection, Boston Public Library

The Beacon Hill Times reported on historic iron fences in Boston central neighborhoods on August 22, 2019.  In addition to explaining how to care for existing iron fences, the Times advised readers:

If a historic fence is non-existent, he [Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission] suggested looking for historic images at the South End Historical Society, backbayhouses.org, Historic New England, the Bostonian Society, Digital Commonwealth, and the City Archives. [Emphasis added.]

To prove that the Times and Joe Cornish are not misdirecting you, see fences (like the one on the left) on the Digital Commonwealth website – which includes images from Historic New England and the City Archives, too.  You’ll find fences of iron, wood, concrete, you name it.

Thanks, Beacon Hill Times and Joe, for spreading the word.

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
Cousins_03399
Salem, 128 Essex Street, interior detail, east parlor, mantel, Joseph Gardner House, from the Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives
Cousins_00702
Salem, 122 Washington Street, exterior detail, doorway, Peabody Building ,from the Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives
10_03_003728a
From Frank Cousins Bee Hive, Salem, from the 19th Century American Trade Cards Collection at Boston Public Library
Cousins_00161
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.

 

Waltham, interior detail, stairway, Governor Gore Mansion, 1799
Stairway, Governor Gore Mansion, 1799 from Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives

Digital Commonwealth uploaded several outstanding photograph collections in June.  But it’s not all photos, there are maps from Phillips Academy in Andover and a painting from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

But the photos are this month’s find.  Like the unusual Massachusetts Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission, Quabbin Reservoir, Photographs of Cemeteries, 1928-1945 from the Massachusetts Archives. It’s sure to be a boon to anyone researching the flooded towns and their families. And the usual Boston Public Library additions to existing collections, like the Leon Abdalian Collection. If, like me, you’re a sucker for snowscapes, Abdalian’s photos, e.g. Ward’s Pond, snow view of hillside are a Christmas-in-July gift. (See below.)

The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum makes a splash with its inaugural contributions of photographs from the glass plate negatives of Frank Cousins and Herman Parker.  Cousins’ larger collection began with photographic essays on Essex County, but soon expanded across the eastern seaboard of the US.  Any fan of historic buildings will appreciate his elegant photos of exteriors and interiors, like the stairway inside the Governor Gore mansion (See top left.)

Views across Marblehead Harbor with boats at sunset
Marblehead Harbor with boats at sunset from Herman Parker Collection of Glass Plate Negatives

Parker also photographed Essex county, but focused on views from his home in Marblehead. I feel I could walk right in to the Views across Marblehead Harbor with boats (See bottom left.) at sunset photo – and I want to. What a great end to a summer day!