Alvah, Walter, and George Howes brothers traveled the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts in the last two decades of the 19th century, taking photographs of the residents and documenting the customs, fashions, architecture, industry, technology, and economic conditions of rural New England.
The Howes collection includes 200 study prints selected from 20,000 negatives held by the Ashfield Historical Society.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Alvah Howes
Alvah Howes (1853-1919) took up photography as a profession in the 1880s and in the years that followed, convinced his brothers Walter and later George to join him. Residents of Ashfield, Mass., the brothers were remarkably persistent and productive photographers, traveling throughout Western Massachusetts to photograph a panoply of daily life, work, and leisure over a career that spanned two decades.
In 1888, the Howes established a studio in Turners Falls, Mass., which Alvah operated until the business foundered following the Depression of 1893. The brothers resumed work in 1896, however they ceased touring in about 1902 and their production tailed off until they quit photography in about 1906. During their career, the Howes took over 20,000 dry plate images, creating one of the most extensive and important visual archives for the region.
Contents of Collection
The Howes brothers, Alvah, Walter, and George, traveled the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts taking photographs of the residents, documenting pictorially the customs, fashions, architecture, industry, technology, and economic conditions of rural New England at the turn of the century. This collection consists of 200 study prints selected from 20,000 negatives on microfilm in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library (name and town index available with the microfilm). The original glass plates are housed in the Ashfield Historical Society, Ashfield, Massachusetts.
A microfilm set (number 5121, reels 1-29) in the Du Bois Library's Microforms Area, includes all of the more than 20,000 Howes photographs in the Ashfield Historical Society's collection.
The images in this collection were printed from originals held by the Ashfield Historical Society, Ashfield, Mass.
Acquired from Ashfield Historical Society, 1980
An article describing the collection is filed in Folder I of the box of study prints in the Archives:
Flint, Linda J., "Preserving Photos as a Historical Resource: the Howes Brothers' Photography," U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, 11593: Information Related to Responsibilities of the Secretary of Interior, vol. 5 no. 2 (June 1980), pp. 11-13.
See also: Alan Newman, ed., New England Reflections, 1882-1907: Photographs by the Howes Brothers (Pantheon Books, 1981)
Processed by SCUA staff.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Copies of these study prints in whatever form can be obtained only by permission of the Howes Brothers Project, Ashfield Historical Society, Ashfield, Mass.
Cite as: Howes Brothers Photographic Collection (MS 313). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.