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FROZEN IN TIME: An Early Carte de Visite Album from New Bedford, Massachusetts by Susan Snow Lukesh

FROZEN IN TIME: An Early Carte de Visite Album from New Bedford, Massachusetts

by Susan Snow Lukesh

188 pages
In Frozen in Time, Susan Snow Lukesh takes a mid-nineteenth century photo album from New Bedford, Massachusetts, created against the almost unmentioned backdrop of the Civil War, offering details of daily living, marrying, working, and dying.

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Category: History:United States:Victorian Era
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About the Book
In Frozen in Time, Susan Snow Lukesh takes a mid-nineteenth century photo album from New Bedford, Massachusetts, created against an almost unmentioned backdrop of the Civil War, and moves the people seemingly frozen in time backwards and forwards, offering details of daily living, marrying, working, and dying of both the individuals whose portraits are included as well as their kin and colleagues.

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.

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 onstage and offstage players combined with the histories presented (of New Bedford, of nineteenth-century social media, and of the album itself) reveal a snapshot of New Bedford’s citizens, New Bedford’s history and industries, and, importantly, New Bedford’s part in the Civil War. Frozen in Time presents local history in the broader context of the United States and can be seen as well as an example of petite histoire – an account of particular households and neighborhoods, reminding readers of the continuing importance of both family and neighborhoods, real or virtual. The discussion of nineteenth-century social media also shows those in the twenty-first century that Facebook can be seen as old social media on a new platform. The photographs from the time of the Civil War underscore the arc of photography from its first use capturing images of war to its present use to record violence perpetuated on and perpetuated by police and others at home and around the world.

Lukesh was entrusted with the family album that is the basis for Frozen in Time and used her experience in research, artifact interpretation, and writing to develop the narrative of the book. She hopes readers will take away the importance and value of both family and history, as well as the part of the family in history.

 

Reviews
What an amazing piece of historical scholarship! Lukesh has woven together so much, from the histories of those pictured in her family's actual Cartes de Visite album, to the history of their houses, their impacts on the industries of New Bedford, and so much more. All of it is carefully sourced and cited, often with additional information on the source. So, in effect, Frozen in Time is a new reference work on early New Bedford, tying together every conceivable repository of relevant information. Bravo, Ms. Lukesh!
- Binnie Ravitch

 

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About the Author
Growing up, Susan Snow Lukesh heard stories of ancestors from New Bedford, Massachusetts instilling in her an abiding interest in the past. In college, she studied the ancient Mediterranean world and excavated prehistoric sites in Italy, returning her attention to family genealogy when her long-standing colleague retired.

 

 

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