Southworth Album of Photographic Portraiture
2016 – 2017 Conservation and Digitization
The exquisite Southworth Golden Wedding Anniversary Album is truly a remarkable object. Compiled in 1875 to honor Emily and Sumner Southworth’s 50th wedding anniversary, the album contains both cabinet cards and cartes de visite (calling cards) featuring portraits of the Southworth social circle – friends, relatives – chiefly Williamstown residents. As was then the custom, the photos were most likely left by the guests upon their arrival at the anniversary party, as gifts commemorating the event. The album provides valuable photographic evidence of the fashion and personal grooming trends of the late 1800s. And, more importantly, it offers a virtual pictorial Who’s Who, a Williamstown Social Register, of 1875. We have been given a unique and remarkable window with which to visually taste the flavor of our community in the last quarter of the 19th century. The anniversary party took place well before the age of the snapshot which, on an important occasion like this one, would have captured guests in action. Yet, these portraits provide us with the best possible visual record of Southworth’s party guests.
With support from Williamstown’s CPA fund we have been able to carry out a major conservation project on this album. The Williamstown Art Conservation Center is working to conserve the album and Chicago Albumen Works, located in Housatonic, MA, has digitized the album so that each image can be accessed online. We hope you will contribute to the ongoing research related to the album and the residents within. To learn more about about this project contact Sarah at [email protected]
Williamstown’s Proprietor’s Book
2015 Conservation and Digitization
Another inspiring project supported with the support of the Town of Williamstown through Community Preservation Act Funds was voted on at the 2015 Annual Town Meeting. The town voted to conserve our town’s Proprietors Book. This book is of unquestionable historic value to the town and to the larger scholarly community. Documents from this period in Williamstown’s history are exceedingly rare since almost all were destroyed in a meeting-house fire in 1866. The original book, now at town hall, has been conserved by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. In addition, a facsimile containing highly detailed research worthy copies of each page was carefully by Chicago Albumen Works located in Housatonic, MA. This three volume facsimile is well worth a peek and we encourage you to view it in the Town Clerk’s office at the Municipal Building. In addition to the facsimile, a digital copy was produced and the Williamstown Historical Museum keeps a dedicated hard-drive of the entire Proprietors Book at the museum. With funding from the Fund for Williamstown, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, we were able to purchase updated computers with more memory. We will soon work on uploading images from the Proprietors Book onto our online collection.
Important Collection Pieces
2014 -2015 Conservation
At the Annual Town meeting in June of 2014, the town voted to provide the Williamstown Historical Museum with funding, through the Community Preservation Act Fund, for the conservation and exhibition of several important artifacts from the museum. The items conserved for the WHM at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center include a number of photos that demonstrate the unique character of Williamstown. In addition to historic photos, three ledgers from the Hopkins Funeral Home and Furniture store dating from 1903 through 1915 have been conserved along with a mid 19th century tilt-top tea table and a wooden canteen that dates from the latter part of the 1700’s (Revolutionary War period).
Thank you to Pine Cobble for helping us to tell the story of Williamstown!
2015 – 2016 Exhibition and Booklet Production
In 2015, seventh graders from Pine Cobble School in Williamstown observed and researched the objects we conserved in 2014. Students investigated the artifacts and their meaning within American and local history. The students’ work was included in an exhibit featuring the conserved objects. Additionally, the students’ work was included in a booklet about the conserved objects and has been distributed throughout the community allowing residents and history enthusiasts to learn more about this corner of the state. Support for the booklet was provided by the Fund for Williamstown, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Beth Carlisle expertly designed the booklet.
For more information call or email Sarah at 413.464.6335 or [email protected]