Established 2006

Langdon's List of 19th & Early 20th Century Photographers

Photographers Blog

Philip C. Mason, Photographer of Cambridge, MA

Posted by LangdonRoad on April 12, 2011 at 4:35 PM Comments comments ()

1880's Cabinet Photo of Antebellum Mother

Image in grayscale

Authentic antique cabinet photo of a much, much earlier photograph of a young mother and her baby. Her cotton print day dress is a perfect example of the style so many reenactors want to achieve. The style of her hair along the face and covering her ears was popular in the 1850’s and early 1860’s, the AnteBellum period.


Someone would have commissioned Mr. Mason, the photographer, to make a copy in order to preserve the older image. Mason was active in Cambridge, Massachusetts at least in the late 1880's and later. Philip C. Mason was born 19 March 1852 in England. There are immigration records for him that indicate he became a naturalized citizen in the US District Court in Boston on 25 Oct 1887. He is listed at the 186 North Avenue in Cambridge, MA address where the above photo was made, in 1888 through 1890. At that time he was living in a house in Somerville.


This cabinet card is from my personal collection. The design of this dress has been part of my research into 19th century American fashion and garment construction.

I have studied this many times and I cannot tell if the baby is wild-eyed and blurred because it was in motion or if this is  post mortem. The mother’s face tells me that the child had died. But it certainly is an unanswered question.  Many experts would say that it is a boy child because his hair is parted in the middle.


This cabinet photo image measures about 4¼ by 6 3/8 inches and the card board mount is off-white in color and has rounded corners. The photographer's name is under the image and the reverse is blank except for some traces of glue from being in an album earlier. Photo software has been used to enlarge the image to show details and gray scale.


Sources: 1888, 1889, 1890 Cambridge, MA City Directories and United States Naturalization Records Index 1791-1992 accessed through

Israel F. Alger, Photographer, Winchendon, Worcester Co., Massachusetts 1860's

Posted by LangdonRoad on March 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM Comments comments ()

I. F. Alger, Photograph Artist, Winchendon, Mass


Authentic Victorian Era pair of cartes de visite (CDVs) of an unidentified middle aged couple who posed at the studio of I. F. Alger in Winchendon, Mass. On the 1870 Massachusetts State Census there is an Israel F. Alger, Photograph Artist, born about 1828 in Massachusetts.


The somber couple may be husband and wife, although there is no way to be certain. The lady has paper in her left hand which brings to mind a letter from a son or daughter. Her dress in 1860’s style, although some experts say that some women wore gowns that were out of style! She has a marvelous brooch at her throat. And extremely distinctive cross hatch pattern trim on hersleeves.


The CDVs measure about 2½ inches by 4 inches and the white or cream color card on which they are mounted is thin, with square corners anda delicate double gold pinstripe. The artists' mark is on the back. Every indication that the photos were taken in the mid to late 1860's.



Source: MA State Census

Towne & Whitney, Lady Photographers of West Gardner, Worcester Co., Massachusetts 1898

Posted by LangdonRoad on March 27, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments ()



                          Alice L. Rice                                       Jessie Gertrude Ogilvie

These are likely formal portraits of two of  the graduating class of 1898 at Gardner High School. Their names are indicated on the back. These were taken at the studio of Towne & Whitney, Lady Photographers, Central St., West Gardner, Mass. The images measure 3 by 4 inches and are on charcoal gray colored textured card stock which measure 4 1/4 by 6 inches. Engraved in silver lettering on the front is the gallery name.

Towne & Whitney

Anna F. Towne and Alma F. Whitney had a photography studio in Gardner, Massachusetts, a little before and into the first decade of the 20th century.

Anna F. Towne was born Feb 1857 in Maine. From available information it seems she married in about 1876-1877 to Willis N. Towne, also a photographer (b ca 1855 in MA). They had two children, Anna M. Towne born 1877-1878 and Willis H. Towne born 1879-1880 both in MA. On the 1880 Census the family is living at 194 Washington St., Boston, MA along with Anna F. Towne’s mother-in-law Ursula Towne, sister-in-law Lilian M. Towne and brother-in-law Charles S. Towne.

Alma F. Whitney was born about 1862 in MA. In 1870 she and her siblings Alice E. and John D. were living with their widowed young mother, Emma Whitney (b ca 1841 in MA) in the Town of Athol in Worcester Co, MA. By 1880 Alma F. Whitley’s mother had married again to Sumner W. Pitts, a restaurant keeper in Athol. Alma was 18 yrs old and teaching school and living with them, her half sister Ada L. Pitts and two female boarders, or it is possible she was in Warwick. There is another listing for an Alma F. Whitney the same age, teaching school in Warwick and boarding with the family of Samuel Reed.


By 1900, Towne and Whitney were in partnership in Gardner, MA.  Anna F. Towne was 43 years old and divorced. Alma F. Whitney was 38 and unmarried. Their photography shop was at 143 Central St. in Gardner.  Working with them was Anna M. Towne, Anna’s daughter and young woman named Annie W. Ross.

That same year, 1900, Willis Towne was living and working at 289 Washington St., Boston, as a photographer with his second wife Clara Towne whom he married ca.1890.



Clara L Rice, (above left) was an educator and Assistant Administrator of Art in Newton and Gardner, Massachusetts public schools. She was born in Nov 1879 to Orrin T. Rice and his wife Martha A. (or N.) Whittemon/Whittemor. On the 1880 Federal Census in Gardner Township, Worcester County, Massachusetts, she first appears aged six months with her parents and a sister Minnie who was born 1869, all born in MA, and maternal grandparents, William Whittemon born 1820 in MA, a Grocer and his wife Eliza born 1821 also in MA. Clara Rice's father Orrin Rice was working as a clerk in his father-in-law's grocery store.


By 1900, Clara L. Rice was 20 years old, attending school and still living with her parents at 116 High Street in Gardner. She now had a younger brother William O. Rice (b ca 1881), also a student. Her father was working as a chair framer.


In 1910, her parents were living alone at 116 High Street, Gardner, but by 1920, Clara  was again at home with her parents at 116 High St. Her father was still working for a chair manufacturer and Clara was teaching in the public schools. By 1923, Clara Rice moved to Newton, Middlesex Co., MA; She is listed in the city and again in the 1929 Newton City Directory when she was assistant supervisor of drawing in the public schools in Newtonville.


Clara L. Rice, at age 50 is on the 1930 Census boarding at 17 Maple Ave., in Newton, with an elderly lady Delia E. Clegg, two Clegg relatives and one name Dorothy Taylor. In addition to Clara, there were three other unrelated spinsters who called this home: Fannie Tewkesberry  and two school teachers,Annie L. Laman and Gertrude P. Cutten. In the 1940 Newton City Directory, Clara L. Rice is still Assistant Supervisor of Art in the public school district.


Jessie Gertrude Ogilvie, (above right) was a Massachusetts educator. She was born about 1883 in Canada. She appears on the 1900 Federal Census in Gardner Township, Worcester Co., Massachusetts in the household of Charles B. Ogilvie and his wife Stella E. Ogilvie. There are other children: Florence E. Ogilvie, Eva M.Ogilvie, all born in Canada (English part) and Ivan B. Ogilvie and Clinton B. Ogilvie, who were both born in Massachusetts. All the children were attending school. Due to her Canadian birth, she can be traced further.

In 1910, Jessie G.Ogilvie is 27 years old and a resident in Elizabeth Thorpe's boarding house in Newton City, Middlesex County, MA, where she is teaching public school.  In 1920, J. Gertrude Ogilvie is back home living with her father and teaching public school in Groton. By 1930 she is living and teaching public school in Boston. 

Sources: US Federal Censuses, City Directories

Dexter B. Vickery, Photographer of Haverhill, Massachusetts

Posted by LangdonRoad on March 11, 2011 at 3:53 PM Comments comments ()

With the use of photo software, it is possible to "clean" the appearance of the image. Photos of this kind are used by costume makers and authors writing about Victorian fashion.

Authentic Victorian Era carte de visite portrait of a young woman who posed at the studio of D. B. Vickery, 37 Merrimack St., Haverhill, Mass. According to the Haverhill Massachusetts City Directory for 1869-1870, Dexter B. Vickery, Photographer, was indeed at 37 Merrimack Haverhill.

The lady's hair is plaited and curled and a froth of lace sets off her face. And she is wearing large wood or semi precious stone crosses on earwires, dangle earrings which must be more than two inches long.

The albumen measures about 2 3/8 inches by 3 5/8 inches and is mounted on a heavy white or cream card with rounded corners, that is 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/8 inches. The artist's mark is in a fanciful pattern on the back. The cdv is not in the best condition, but the image itself is clear and has good contrast. Photo software has been used to enlarge and touch up the image to show her lovely face.

The photographer Dexter B. Vickery appears clearly in New England Censuses from 1850 to 1900. He was born in about 1840, the son of Alfred Vickery, a farmer in Merrimack, New Hampshire. By 1860, at just the age of 19, D. B. Vickery was a Daguerrean Artist in Lowell, Massachusetts. William Kendall, another Daguerrean Artist, born about 1832, is boarding at the same address as Vickery in 1860.

By the 1870 Census, Dexter Vickery, Photographer, was flourishing and working in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and married to Julia Vickery. As noted in the Haverhill City Directory 1869-1870, he was at 37 Merrimack Street, as the back of the photo also shows.

Vickery and wife Julia are also listed in Haverhill on the 1880 Census, living at 19 Highland Avenue. Boarding with him is Eva Lee, his niece, aged 27 and single, who is working as an Artist, possibly as a retouch artist. Also another lady named Ginny Blakeslee, a boarder, is also working as an Artist.

Sources: Federal Censuses

Orlando B. Richardson, Photographer of Cambridge, MA

Posted by LangdonRoad on February 7, 2011 at 5:39 PM Comments comments ()

When it began this search was for more information about this carte de visite which has the 1860's look and the only information on the back: “Richardson, Lowell, Mass.”


This type of photo image, a vignette portrait and the style of the CDV place this in the 19th century. The characteristics of the card: the size of the card (about 2 1/4" x 4"), the cream colored thin cardboard mount with square corners and a plainly printed photographer's back mark places this unidentified young lady in the 1860's. Her hair parted in the center and with a cascade of long sausage curls, the day dress which has a high collar with a little white ruffle and tiny buttons down the front were fashionable around the time of the American Civil War. If there was tax stamp on the back, it might be more precisely dated to the Civil War years, we must settle for Civil War Era and/or the 1860's. ,


The search did not prove exactly whose studio produced this particular carte, Beginning the search using Federal Census records for Lowell, MA, I did not find a photographer named Richardson living and working in Lowell, Massachusetts in the1860’s. It seems though that there was a photographer named Orlando B. Richardson who first appears as a Photographer on the 1870 Massachusetts Census in Middlesex County in Cambridge’s Second Ward. The photographer was 28 years old and married to Malvinia S. Richardson. The young couple had a personal estate of $7,000 and were living in the same household with John Wilder, a wealthy real estate agent, his wife Persis D.Wilder and son Albert F. Wilder.

In 1860, Orlando B. Richardson aged 17 is living and working with Mary A. Richardson, a widow who is farming in Middlesex Co.

In 1880, Orlando B. Richardson, Photographer, is enumerated on the Middlesex County, MA Census in Somerville. His address is 142 Clarendon Avenue. His wife is Malvinia and the children are: Edith W. Richardson, Albert W. Richardson, Persis E. Richardson and Madeline Richardson who was born in June 1879.


In 1900, Orlando B.Richardson surfaces on the other side of the dark period of the lost 1890 Census, but he is working as a boot and shoe salesman. He and daughter Edith W. Richardson, a teacher of drawing and design, are living at 8 Warland Street in Cambridge.  On the 1900 census, Orlando B. Richardson and his wife each indicate they are married, but they are living apart., Daughter is  Edith W. living with her father and the remaining children are living with Malvinia Richardson: Persis C., Madaline, Odline, Albert W. and two younger children.Their son, Albert W. Richardson says he has been married 6 years, so the two youngsters Leslie and Roland may be Albert's children.


In 1910, Orlando B.Richardson, boot and shoe salesman and his daughter Edith W., an architectural draftsman are still living at 8 Warland Street with William A. Thomas and family.

Now for the family historian in you, here is other Bio compiled using Massachusetts Federal Census records:

Orlando B. Richardson was born April 1842 in Massachusetts and Malvinia S. Richardson born March 1844 in New Hampshire.

The 1850 Census shows that Orlando B. Richardson is likely the son of: George B. Richardson, who was born about 1807 in Maine, a Dealer in Ice and Fruit with $4,600 of personal estate in West Cambridge, Middlesex Co. ,Massachusetts. In 1850  George B. Richardson’s wife was Mary A. Richardson, born about 1814 in Massachusetts and the children listed were: George E., Orlando B., Elenor W., Francis E. and Ella R. Richardson.


On both the 1850 and 1860 Censuses, Samuel Wilson born 1787 and Mary A. Wilson born about 1792-1794, both in Mass. are living in Mary A. Richardson’s household.



It cannot be proven at this time with this information and the image to prove that the above cdv was taken by Orlando B. Richardson.