Episode 101: Rediscovering an American Community of Color

Most photo collectors dream about stumbling upon a significant collection that changes our understanding of photo history. For Frank Morrill it was a series of connections that led to his purchasing a huge collection of glass negatives. Years later his granddaughter held one up and asked him about them.  That second look led to a collaboration with a historian at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, an exhibit and an award winner catalog for the show. Those negatives documented the African American community in that city, a group of individuals studied by Janette Greenwood for a project on migrations.  She never thought she’d see the faces of those individuals nor did the descendants of many of the people in the photographers.  It was a case of photographic kismet.  

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About My Guests:

Frank J. Morrill is a lifelong educator. He received his graduate degree from the University of Buffalo and taught science, history and law at Millbury, Massachusetts High School.  In retirement he has written several local history books and co-authored three with his granddaughter Hannah Morrill.  He has always had a strong interest in historical documents and photographs and has collected them for more than 50 years.  This interest led to the acquisition, in 2003, of the collection of William S. Bullard’s 5,400 glass negatives taken primarily in Worcester County.  

Janette Thomas Greenwood is Professor of History at Clark University. She teaches a variety of courses in U.S. history including Race and Ethnicity in American History, Reconstruction, The Gilded Age, Public History, and History of the American South. She is the author of several books and articles including First Fruits of Freedom: The Migration of Former Slaves and Their Search for Equality in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1862-1900 (2010. She co-curated “Reimagining an American Community of Color: The Portraits of William Bullard, 1897-1917,” an exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum, October 2017—February 2018 and co-edited and contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue, which won the Historic New England Book Prize in 2018.

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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