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Derby, VT: an 1862 Photographer

During the family trip north, from Springfield to Derby, Vermont, in the summer of 1862, several in the Albee family POSED for an artist. When Isadore Albee first mentioned this, my immediate thought was: WHO was the Photographer??

Then I spotted what HAD to be the man’s name, up the side of the entry. And – unfortunately – still I was asking, Who’s the photographer??!!

I can’t read Dora’s handwriting!

It looks like Mr. Parlin; it could be Mr. Parlier.

Neither name has turned up much information. How I wish it were someone like Mr. Eastman… And that is part of the problem: Was the artist a Derby man? Not necessarily. But, given the amount of equipment required – for I believe “took our pictures” denotes a photographer – how “itinerant” an artist could he have been, in 1862? It’s not like a painter or silhouettist.

The man, also, could be from CANADA, dipping down through the Lake Memphremagog area. I could see a Mr. Poulin plying his trade near the Canada-United States Border.

Did the man hand out business cards? Or, was he introduced via word-of-mouth? Dora may have misheard his name.

A great pity no photographs were included with the diaries!

It is the 8th of July (1862); here is Dora’s journal entry (the spelling is hers):

8 T       To Charlotts again to night. spent the afternoon to Lucies  all [hands?] had an introduction to Dr. Nucom [sic]  himself Geo. Robinson & Brooks Clark spent the evening here. Artist took our pictures to day for his museum   it is nealy [sic: nearly] one o’clock.
[up side:] Artist  Mr. Parlin [Parlier? doubt: Poulin]

It is the word museum that makes me think photography. Would anyone care to nose around a few dusty silhouettes? Perhaps, if the artist were the renowned Auguste Edouart (he had died the previous year). A sketch artist – depending how many sitters he had to recreate – might have been quickish, but the word “museum” surely denotes something beyond “boardwalk” sketches done for the tourists.

Should any readers have a hint that helps solve the mystery, please contact me

Published by Janeite Kelly

My ties to Jane Austen began about the time I "discovered" England, British movies & TV (thanks, PBS, CBC), and cups of tea with a nice Marks & Spencer digestive on the side. A solo trip to London, when aged nineteen, segued into a weekend in Cornwall (home of Daphne du Maurier and Winston Graham's Poldarks) -- which resulted in a missed flight home.... Those three weeks abroad undoubtedly brought into my life women like Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, Somerville and Ross, the Brontës, Mrs Trollope, Jane Welsh Carlyle, Dorothy Wordsworth, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler (collectively, The Ladies of Llangollen), and -- of course, Jane Austen. I joined JASNA in the fall of 2006 when my research meandered down an Austen-path; and I spent two months during the summer of 2007 in Winchester, transcribing diaries & letters relating to Emma Smith (aka: Mrs James-Edward Austen-Leigh, 1801-1876) and her friend, neighbour, "sister of the heart" and eventual sister-in-law, Mary Gosling (aka: Lady Smith, 1800-1842). Several articles written since this trip appear in JASNA's journal, PERSUASIONS / Persuasions On-Line, and LOCAL PAST, the Newsletter of the Alcester and District Historical Society (Warwickshire, England).

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