Frozen in Time: An Early Carte de Visite Album from New Bedford, Massachusetts
In Frozen in Time, Susan Snow Lukesh takes a mid-nineteenth century photo album from New Bedford, Massachusetts, created against a backdrop of the Civil War, and moves the people seemingly frozen in time backwards and forwards.
This album with its very small cast of neighbors and kin thus unfolds to offer a glimpse of the rich panorama of nineteenth-century New Bedford. The biographical sketches of the players reveal a snapshot of New Bedford’s citizens, New Bedford’s history and industries, and importantly, New Bedford’s part in the Civil War.
The details of daily living, of the marrying, working, and dying of the neighbors and kin in the photo album from New Bedford demonstrate the personal side of the development of this famous whaling capital through its transition to a strong mill economy. These details also show how the financial and intellectual capital of the city fueled development throughout the United States.
An excerpt of the book Frozen in Time, found in its Foreword:
“Lukesh, archaeologist working as historian, creates the profile of a closely knit group of individuals—neighbors and kin—who belonged to the leading families of a city that knew Herman Melville and Frederick Douglass during these same decades. Looking at the portraits, leafing through the book and reading her discussion of each of those photographed one comes to recognize the Grinnells, the Snows, the Hunts, the Tabers and others as if they lived next door in that earnest, ambitious and supremely optimistic America of the decades surrounding the Civil War.”
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After reading about Frozen in Time, if you are interested in visiting New Bedford, consider staying at Abby Taber Hunt’s home, now available for overnight stay. Abby is, of course, the compiler of the photo album on which the book is based.