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Emerson Collection

Longmeadow Historical Society

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A significant gift to the Longmeadow Historical Society many years ago was a very large collection of glass negatives that are known as the Emerson Collection. These negatives, some more than a century old, represent the efforts of one photographer -- a Longmeadow resident, Paesiello Emerson -- from 1902 to 1927.

Emerson was born in Hopkinton, MA on February 10, 1832, the oldest child of William Goddard Emerson and Susan (Perkins) Emerson. He began work as a boot maker in Ashland; a nearby town to Hopkinton with many boot and shoe shops.

In 1863, at age 31, Paesiello enlisted as a private in the 5th Independent Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery. While his unit was in action on June 8, 1864 at Rappahannock Wilderness, Spottsylvania near Bottoms Bridge, Paesiello was wounded by a ten pound parrott shell. He recovered and saw further action until his unit returned home after the surrender in 1865. His father, stepmother, and their three young children, William, Annie, and Henry moved to Longmeadow in 1872. They purchased the home of Captain Luther Colton at 476 Longmeadow Street -- now known as the Cooley-Emerson house as it was built by a Cooley in 1760. Paesiello moved to Longmeadow to live with his half-brothers and half-sister shortly after 1900.

Paesiello's interest in photography began soon after reaching his 70th birthday in 1902. Not only are there extensive photographic images of Longmeadow a century ago, but the collection includes images of Paesiello's hometown of Hopkintown, his later town of Spencer, and many other communities.

In August 1925, Paesiello was presented with the gold-headed ebony cane as the oldest resident in Longmeadow. At his death on December 28, 1927, he bequeathed his photographic collection to his half-sister Annie, who later gifted the entire collection to the Longmeadow Historical Society.

Locations in this Collection: