Digital Commonwealth

John L. Lovell Collection

Jones Library, Amherst

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John L. Lovell (1825-1903) was a professional photographer. He came to Amherst in 1856 and established the Amherst Picture Gallery, the first photographic studio in Western Massachusetts. In addition to studio work, Lovell was interested in scientific photography, accompanying an Amherst College astronomical team to California in 1882, as well as photographing Connecticut Valley geological features. His photos provide the best visual documentation from the 1860s to the 1890s of the successive transitions Amherst made from an agricultural town, to an industrial one, and finally, to a town known chiefly for its educational institutions. Moreover, Lovell’s images provide the best visual available documentation of Emily Dickinson’s community. Early images of the Dickinson houses, the streets, shops, and businesses the family knew intimately – all are found within this very important collection. John L. Lovell Collection (ca. 1860s – ca. 1890s) can be seen in its entirety at the Jones Library. It includes negatives; 59 stereopticon views of Amherst; 40 cartes de visite; and 1200 prints. The collection includes the first surviving photos of Amherst. Subjects include Amherst and the Connecticut Valley, especially architecture, businesses, construction, etc. Biographical reviews in local newspapers of the day; advertisements for his business and other materials accompany the photographs. The cartes de visite are significant because of extensive collateral material in the manuscript collection.

Locations in this Collection: