PHSNE’s April 2021 meeting features Ned Quist’s research and presentation on a group of amateur photographers who photographed the Harvard Shaker Village in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Zoom meeting begins Sunday, April 4, 2021, at 7:30 PM EDT.
From the 1880s to World War I, a group of amateur photographers in Ayer, Massachusetts traveled around the area taking pictures of historic buildings, landscapes, train disasters, outdoor recreation, construction projects, their neighbors, and themselves (the “selfie” is not new). Among the thousands of surviving photographs from these amateurs are a group of images documenting the last years of the Shaker community in the town of Harvard.
Improved photographic technology in the form of Kodak’s gelatin dry plate, and the hand-held camera, made it possible for amateurs such as Charles Kennison (a disabled clock repairman and bicycle mechanic), William Wright (an undertaker and furniture maker), Edward Richardson (a local politician), H. E. Evans (local bookkeeper), and others to take and develop high quality images.
Their work, possibly inspired by the efforts of the Boston Camera Club to document historic buildings in Boston, did a great deal to capture late 19th and early 20th century Ayer and its surroundings. Some of the images have become well-known after being published either as postcards or appearing in books on the Shakers; others are relatively unknown and expand our understanding of this vital community in its final years.
Ned Quist is a retired academic librarian having served at the Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute as the music librarian for 25 years and 15 years at Brown University, where he was music librarian and Associate University Librarian for Research and Outreach Services. Since retiring he’s developed a deep interest in the culture and creativity of the Shakers. Quist makes furniture in both the Shaker and Arts and Craft styles. He has a B. A. from Colgate University, and Master’s Degrees from The Peabody Institute in Music History and from Catholic University in Library Science.
Additional Boston Camera Club information is available at https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/collections/commonwealth:vd66w647r