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Boston Building Department photographic collection, 1920s-1930s

PC016 (RS13167)


The Boston Building Department Photographic Collection includes over 1,000 original prints and negatives by W. W. K. Campbell. The prints document buildings that had come to the Department's attention as a result of complaints about their safety. Many items possess attached documentation regarding the nature of the complaint and the action taken to correct it.

All communities incorporated into Boston, as well as those in the downtown area, are represented by images, such as South Boston, Charlestown, East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Brighton, and Chelsea.

The collection is a record of urban decay and building traditions associated with working class neighborhoods that are not well documented. Photographs of many late-eighteenth and early-nineteeth-century structures show that they had fallen on hard times. For the most part, the images tend to be strictly documentary, though there are occasional glimpses of the surrounding streets and inhabitants.

Source: Guide to the Library and Archives, 9.


Collection Name
Boston Building Department photographic collection, 1920s-1930s
Collection Code
Physical Description
ca. 1,000 photographic negatives : black-and-white
ca. 1,000 photographic prints : black-and-white
Collection Type
Description Level
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

W. W. K. Campbell worked as a photographer for the Boston Building Department in the 1920s and 1930s.

Source: Guide to the Library and Archives, 9.


The collection is arranged geographically.

Record details

Campbell, W. W. K., Mr. (Photographer)
Descriptive Terms
commercial buildings
historic buildings
municipal government
urban areas
urban blight
working class
Material Type
black-and-white negatives
black-and-white prints (photographs)
South Boston (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Charlestown (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
East Boston (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Roxbury (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Dorchester (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Brighton (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Chelsea (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)

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  • Boston Building Department photographic collection, 1920s-1930s (current record)