The following book review was written by Bobbi King:
“Cartes de visite: small, mass-produced, and inexpensive photographs introduced in the United States in 1859, widely used in the 1860s and then almost completely superseded by the larger cabinet card photograph in the 1870s.”
Ms. Lukesh inherited a carte de visite album created in the 1860s by her great-great grandmother Abby Taber Hunt. She presents this album, along with biographical sketches of the families, with detailed descriptions of a neighborhood, as a glimpse of one sectional area as being representative of the larger metropolis, and a sense of the culture and times of the seacoast town and whaling port city of New Bedford.
The individuals featured in the album lived in the neighborhood west of the mansions on the east side of County Street, which formed the western edge of the city. A map with notations of who lived where, illustrates the closeness of the homes to one another, and a keen depiction of the neighborhood.
The twelve pages of the original album are reproduced here. The families portrayed are Taber, Thomas, Pitman, Kent, Trafton Smith, Studley, Bartlett, Arnold, Grinnels, Sullivan, Kent, Melville, Hoadley, Howland, Hathaway, Durfee, Gordon, Albee, and Hunt. The album pages could not have been easy to duplicate, what with faded handwriting, variances in photo shadings, and the aged pages themselves affecting the background quality, but here they are evocative of the distant past, familial bonds, and agedness.
Ms. Lukesh offers extensive biographical sketches of persons and families supplementing the impact of the photos. There are lengthy accounts with sidebar comments about the sources and stories, while the photo captions are nicely descriptive, and the scanned and reproduced photos of buildings and homes are all remarkably crisp, no easy feat to achieve.
As a book focused entirely on one city, it might be interesting only to those familiar with this locale, but it’s beautifully produced.
The descendants of the families should be pleased to have such a handsome book no longer confined to the cupboard, but one which can be shared across the families and treasured for a long time to come.
Frozen in Time: An Early Carte de Visite Album from New Bedford, Massachusetts by Susan Snow Lukesh is available as a hardcover book, a paperback, or as an ebook from Lulu.com at https://goo.gl/UiqJ5R.