Visit the Memorial Hall Museum

Courtesy of Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, MA.

[1] FBJ, ed. “The Foremost Women Photographers in America,” The Ladies’ Home Journal 18, no. 8 (July 1901): 13.

[2] The thirty-six square mile town, settled by the English in 1669, had a population of 2421 in 1850.

[3] In 1874, the Allens owned twenty-eight acres of mowing and tillage fields, twenty-five acres of pasture, and a ten-acre wood lot. The total value of this property, which also included an eighteenth-century house, a barn and shed, and a new barn, was $4,170. Valuation List for the Town of Deerfield, May 1, 1874 (Springfield, MA: Weaver, Shipman & Company, 1874), p. 3.

[4] Josiah Allen (1814-1895) was the son of Eliel and Electa (Allis) Allen and Mary Stebbins Allen (1819-1901) was the daughter of Dennis and Lois (Hawks) Stebbins. Their children were: Frances Stebbins (1854-1941), Mary Electa (1858-1941), Edmund Eliel (1855-1939), and Caleb (1861-1927).

[5] Between 1861 and 1866, different teachers spent part of their year living at the Allen homestead. JA’s journals, Allen Family Papers, PVMA Library.

[6] JA journal, 6 January 1869, Allen Family Papers, PVMA Library. The piano was a considerable investment for JA. As a comparison, JA built a tobacco barn several years later valued in 1874 at $325.

[7] “Examination of Candidates, September 12, 1874,” Records State Normal School, February 1874-September 1884, pp. 2-3, WSC. The students were tested in grammar, arithmetic, geography, spelling, and reading. Fanny’s average was 8.1 and Mary’s was 7.6.

[8] FSA, Westfield, MA, letter to her mother, Mary Stebbins Allen, Deerfield, MA, 13 September 1874, PC.

[9] Ibid.

[10] MEA, Westfield, MA, letter to Edmund Allen, Deerfield, MA, 13 December 1874, PC.

[11] FSA, Westfield, MA, letter to Edmund and Caleb Allen, Deerfield, MA, 17 March 1875, PC. Although no further information about The Ladies’ Casket was found, a possible precursor was The Normal Casket. Two manuscript volumes dating from 1852 and 1866 written by the members of the Normal Lyceum are located in WSC. The 1852 volume has the byline “Devoted to Science and Literature ‘Excelsior’” and the 1866 volume is inscribed “Motto ‘Life without Literature is Dead.’”

[12] FSA, Westfield, MA, letter to “Mother, Ed and Calie,” Sunday, October in an envelope stamped October 26, n.d., PC.

[13] FSA, Westfield, MA, letter to Edmund Allen, Deerfield, MA, n.d., PC.

[14] FSA, Westfield, MA letter to her mother, Mary Stebbins Allen, Deerfield, MA, 13 September 1874, PC.

[15] See Catalogue of the State Normal School, at Westfield, Mass., For the Year ending June 29, 1876, (Westfield, MA: Clark & Story, 1876), p. 15, WSC; “State Aid. Summer Term of 1876,” Students, 1876-1901, Book of Reports, 1876-1881, p. 274, WSC. Frances received $12.12;  “Winter Term of 1875-1876. State Aid,” Westfield State Normal School, January 5, 1867, p. 325, WSC. Fanny Allen was one of 37 pupils that $400.00 in State Aid was divided among.

[16] Tom Beck, An American Vision: John G. Bullock and the Photo-Secession (New York, NY: Aperature in association with University of Maryland Baltimore County, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, 1989), pp. 7-8, cites, John F. Weir, “Group 27. Plastic and Graphic Art,” International Exhibition, 1876. Reports and Awards 7, ed. Francis A. Walker (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880), pp. 608, 628-29, 683, 685.

[17] Mary Field Fuller, “The Misses Allen,” Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association 1941 Annual, (Deerfield, MA: PVMA, 1941): 163.

[18] JA journal, 21 December 1879, Allen Family Papers, PVMA Library.

[19] JA journals, October 1880 to January 1881, Allen Family Papers, PVMA Library. JA records taking MEA to Greenfield for music lessons with Professor Schuster.

[20] JA’s journals from January 1883 to December 1891 apparently do not survive; information on these critical years in Frances and Mary’s lives is therefore lacking.

[21] Kathleen Kennedy, Reference Librarian, and Chris Nims, Library Director, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, kindly researched Dr. Jack and Dr. Blake. Dr. Clarence J. Blake published data about his surgeries in “Mastoid Cases,” Transactions of the American Otological Society 1891-1893 5, Part 1 (New Bedford, MA: Mercury Publishing Company, 1893): 23-65.

[22] My thanks to Dr. Nathan Geurkink, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who reviewed the Allen sisters’ medical histories as recorded in JA’s journals, and suggested the possible cause of their hearing losses. Otoschlerosis is hereditary and causes progressive hearing loss with deafness becoming pronounced when people are in their thirties, the age FSA and MEA’s hearing losses are first noted. Their nephew, Francis Allen, also became deaf as a young adult.

[23] EGS, Chicopee, MA, letter to MEA, n.d. [October 1897], EGS Papers, SSC.

[24] Edmund Allen had a wet-stamp “Photograph by E.E. Allen,” to mark his photographs. It survives on only one photograph.

[25] E. M., “Child Portraiture,” Good Housekeeping 35, no. 6 (December 1902): 395. It is uncertain if the Allen sisters did in fact begin with a Kodak camera.

[26] “Deerfield,” Handicraft 5, no. 4 (July 1912): 53.

[27] “Deerfield,” Gazette and Courier (Greenfield), 27 October 1888: 4. My thanks to Amelia F. Miller for pointing out this newspaper reference.

[28] Elbridge Kingsley of nearby Hatfield, MA, a close friend of the Miller family and acquainted with the Allens, was a successful wood-engraver whose work was made obsolete by the halftone. Kingsley also dabbled with the camera and lectured and published articles concerning photography. See Elbridge Kingsley, “Art in Photography,” Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin 18, no. 3 (12 February 1887): 86-88; no. 4 (26 February 1887): 113-15; no. 5 (12 March 1887): 146-49.    

[29] Horace E. Miller, Sketches of Conway (Conway, MA: H. E. Miller, 1890).

[30] Chas F. Warner, ed., Picturesque Franklin (Northampton, MA: Wade, Warner & Company, 1891).

[31] MEA, “Old Deerfield,” The New England Magazine 7, no. 1 (September 1892): 11-12, 33.

[32] “Camera Studies of Child Life,” The Illustrated Buffalo Express, 17 December 1893: 13.

[33] FSA and MEA, “Prize-Winner’s Accounts of Themselves,” The Photo-Beacon 6, no. 3 (March 1894): 104-05. In the introductory paragraph, readers are told that “The Illustrated Buffalo Express carries on occasional photographic competitions, and in a recent issue, induced several of the prize-winners to give some account of their methods.” The Photo-Beacon “extracted” the Allens’ letter.

[34] Marguerite Tracy, “Shadows of the Artist’s Ideal,” The Quarterly Illustrator 2, no. 6 (1894): 209. Gertrude Käsebier’s prize-winning photograph, Are They the Real That Blossoms and Passes, is illustrated along with fifteen other photographs of women draped in Grecian dress.

[35] Henry Milford Steele, “The Artistic Side of Photography,” The Quarterly Illustrator 2, no. 7 (1894): 322-26.

[36] FSA scrapbook, “Stories of the Public School,” Deerfield Authors Case, PVMA Library, includes articles dating from 1894 to 1899 cut and pasted into the journal Photo Era. MEA scrapbook, “Old Deerfield,” Deerfield Authors Case, PVMA Library, includes articles dating from 1892 to 1899.

[37] “Notes on the Washington Salon,” The American Amateur Photographer 8, no. 7 (July 1896): 306.

[38] “Washington Art Photographic Salon,” The American Amateur Photographer 8, no. 6 (June 1896): 237.

[39] “Notes on the Washington Salon,” 308. A Steep Path was reproduced in The American Amateur Photographer 8, no. 8 (August 1896): 337. As with A Steep Path, subsequently titled and exhibited as A Difficult Step, the Allen sisters were not necessarily consistent with titles. At times, an image was given more than one title. In other instances, a title is used for more than one image.

[40] “A National Collection,” The American Amateur Photographer 8, no. 7 (July 1896): 278-82.

[41] FBJ also used her connections with the Washington elite to promote the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework. FBJ borrowed embroidery patterns of the Deerfield Society from MEA, an active member. FBJ also had a friendly relationship with Phoebe Apperson Hearst, mother of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.  In a letter from MEA to FBJ, 29 March [1897], FBJC-LC, she mentions that Margaret Whiting was embroidering a bag pocket for Mrs. Hearst. The Chicago Sunday Times, 4 December 1898, reported that the women of the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework were embroidering a bedspread for Mrs. Hearst’s Washington home. 

[42] FBJ was a friend of Agnes Whiting Wynne (1870-1928), a talented young woman who was a violinist, journalist, and crafter, who married Madeline Yale Wynne’s son, Philip Wynne (1868-1919).  The FBJC-LC correspondence between FBJ and Agnes (and occasionally Philip) Wynne suggests deep and mutual affections.

[43] MEA letter to FBJ, 25 January [1897], reel 5, FBJC-LC.

[44] “Deerfield,” Gazette and Courier (Greenfield), 6 March 1897: 6, “Miss Mary Allen has gone to Washington for a visit.”

[45] MEA letter to FBJ, 9 April 1897, reel 4, FBJC-LC, mentions MEA’s as yet undeveloped negatives of a Mr. Geyer and Margaret. The photograph Our Margaret, a close-up frontal view of a turbaned African-American woman, is in the FBJC-LC. 

[46] MEA letter to FBJ, 20 March 1897, reel 4, FBJC-LC. MEA visited the exhibition with Julia Whiting, who knew Robert C. Minor. Her sister, Margaret Whiting, and Ellen Miller had studied painting with him.

[47] MEA to FBJ, 30 July 1898, reel 20, FBJC-LC. When this letter was microfilmed, the section containing this was filmed separately from the first part. A copyright search covering the period 1870 through 1954 revealed that FSA and MEA never registered to copyright their photographs. Stephen G. Soderberg, Copyright Office, LC, letter to David R. Proper, Librarian, The Memorial Libraries, Deerfield, MA, 10 February 1982.

[48] Ibid.

[49] MEA letter to FBJ, 13 August [1898], reel 6, FBJC-LC.

[50] MEA letter to FBJ, 7 October [1898], reel 6, FBJC-LC.

[51] My thanks to Gill Thompson, Librarian, The Royal Photographic Society, for sending me a copy of the 1897 catalogue.

[52] MEA to FBJ, 30 July 1898, reel 20, FBJC-LC.

[53] “The 1898 American Institute Exhibition of Photographs,” The American Amateur Photographer 10, no. 10 (October 1898): 460.

[54] MEA letter to FBJ, 4 June 1900, reel 5, FBJC-LC.

[55] Etienne Wallon, “L’Exposition des Artistes Américaines au Photo-Club,” Photo-Gazette 2, (25 February 1901): 63. My thanks to Bronwyn Griffith, Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, for bringing this review to my attention.

[56] Toby Quitslund, “Her Feminine Colleagues: Photographs and Letters Collected by Frances Benjamin Johnston in 1900,” in Women Artists in Washington Collections, ed. Josephine Withers, (College Park, MD: The Gallery, 1979), pp. 97-109, 112. For a comprehensive review of this important exhibition and the Frances Benjamin Johnston collection at the Library of Congress, see Bronwyn A. E. Griffith, ed., Ambassadors of Progress: American Women Photographers in Paris, 1900-1901 (Giverny, France: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, 2001).

[57] Memorial Hall Museum was recently given a framed photograph of Woman in Sunbonnet with a Philadelphia Photographic Salon, 1899 label. The 1899 catalogue does not include any Allen sisters’ photographs. In an August 16, 2001 e-mail to the author, Cheryl Leibold, Archivist, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, explained that although there is a slight chance that the photograph was added to the exhibition after the catalogue went to press, it is more likely that the photograph was rejected by the jury and the label, which as part of the entry form was filled out and attached to the work when it was submitted, was simply not removed from the back.

[58] MEA letter to FBJ, 8 August 1901, reel 6, FBJC-LC. Eva Watson-Schütze (1867-1935) was a member of Britain’s Linked Ring and a founding member of the Photo-Secession.

[59] Charles L. Mitchell, M.D., “The Third Philadelphia Salon,” The American Amateur Photographer 12, no. 12 (December 1900): 565.

[60] Osborne I. Yellott, “Third Philadelphia Photographic Salon,” Photo Era 5, no. 6 (December 1900): 170. For more on Fred Holland Day, one of the most influential photographers of the time, see Pam Roberts, F. Holland Day (Amsterdam, Holland: Van Gogh Museum, 2000).

[61] Yellott, “Third Philadelphia Photographic Salon,” 175.

[62] Mitchell, “The Third Philadelphia Salon,” 565.

[63] MEA letter to FBJ, n.d. [Summer, 1901], reel 6, FBJC- LC. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 October 1901, Section 2: 4 notes “The Photographic Society is showing for its monthly wall display this season a collection of most attractive prints by Mary and Frances Allen.”

[64] MEA letter to FBJ, n.d. [Summer 1901], reel 6, FBJC-LC.

[65] Hugh Findlay, Mother Nature and Her Fairies (Syracuse, NY: C. W. Bardeen, 1913). My thanks to the staff at Brown University Library for providing me with copies of the illustrations.

[66] FBJ, ed. “The Foremost Women Photographers in America,” The Ladies’Home Journal 18, no. 8 (July 1901): 13. The articles on the other women appeared in May, June, August, October, and November 1901, and January 1902.

[67] MEA letter to FBJ, n.d. [Summer 1901], reel 6, FBJC-LC.

[68] Agnes Whiting Wynne to FBJ, n.d. [early March 1901], reel 20, FBJC-LC.

[69] MEA letter to FBJ, n.d. [Summer 1901], reel 6, FBJC-LC.

[70] William V. Alexander, Private Secretary to Edward Bok, Editor, The Ladies’ Home Journal letter to FBJ, 21 November 1900, reel 5, FBJC-LC. FBJ was well paid for her series “The Foremost Women Photographers in America.” For the seven articles, the magazine paid FBJ $1,050.00. She in turn paid the featured women’s reproduction fees.

[71] Thomas J. Schlereth, “Victorian America: 1876-1915” (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991), p. 78.

[72] MEA letter to FBJ, n.d. [Summer 1901], reel 6, FBJC-LC.

[73] Juan C. Abel, “Women Photographers and Their Work,” The Delineator 58, no. 5 (November 1901): 747-51.

[74] “The Real Daughters of America,” The Ladies’ Home Journal 23, no. 8 (July 1906): 28-29. Interestingly, editor Edward Bok,  Harrison Morris, and Marion Wise of The Ladies’ Home Journal toured Deerfield’s Arts and Crafts and Memorial Hall Museum in February 1906.

[75] For a fascinating account of Wallace Nutting (1861-1941), whose hand-tinted platinotypes of colonial scenes permeated American homes throughout the first half of the twentieth century, see Thomas A. Denenberg, “Consumed by the Past: Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America,” (Master’s thesis: Boston University, 2001). My thanks to Tom for sharing his dissertation with me in such a timely manner.

[76] “Deerfield Arts Praised,” Greenfield Recorder, 1 July 1903, quoting from The Outlook.

[77] Country Life in America 9, no. 2 (December 1905): 164-65.

[78] Country Life in America 18, no. 2 (December 1907): 177, 179.

[79] MEA diary, 8 December 1912, PC.

[80] [Frances Duncan], “The Garden Doctor,” The Garden Magazine 17, no. 1 (February 1913): 11-13. Cover illustration [credited Mary and Francis [sic] Allen] and two photographs on pp. 11-13. Although the articles ran as a monthly series until November, 1913, MEA’s photographs illustrate only the first article. My thanks to Derick Denby, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Boston, for allowing me access to their archives.

[81] E. M., “Child Portraiture,” Good Housekeeping 35, no. 6 (December 1902): 395.

[82] Dorothy Andrews Parmeter, interview with author, Hatfield, MA, 8 December 1997.

[83] Mary A. Ball, Deerfield, MA, letter to Ellie Reichlin, Librarian, SPNEA, 13 November 1979, SPNEA Library.