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Introduction

A Changing World: New England in the Photographs of Verner Reed, 1950-1972

 Introduction

nullIn June 1953, photographer Verner Reed (1923 – 2006) was taking pictures of a protest in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's executions were scheduled for later that week, and both their supporters and detractors were out in force. While he worked, Reed was approached by a Life magazine writer who had no photographer with him that day. Reed agreed to help the writer cover the story, and so began his six-year stint covering New England for Life.

Reed had first turned to photography in the late 1940s in Vermont to document the handcrafted furniture he made. Soon, though, he took an interest in photography as a mode of self-expression. He moved to Boston in the early 1950s, where he spent much of his time, camera in hand, exploring the city's streets and photographing its inhabitants. He also sought out freelance work on the side. These two worlds--creating images of life in and around the city and earning a living from photography--came together serendipitously at the Rosenberg protest.

During his photographic career, Reed's work was also featured in other national magazines such as Fortune and Time, regional publications including Vermont Life, and several New England newspapers. His work came to encompass what it means to be a New Englander. We discover in Reed's photographs a turbulent, lively, changeable New England--a place that defies its long-held reputation as being overly dependent on the past. Reed's New Englanders respected tradition, and relished and maintained much of value from the past, but were deeply engaged with the coming of a new age.

 

A Changing World: New England in the Photographs of Verner Reed, 1950-1972 

Organized by Historic New England, Boston, Massachusetts 

All photographs are drawn from the collections of Historic New England, presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. They are part of the Verner Reed Archive, a collection of more than 26,000 negatives and prints, which was donated by Verner and Deborah Reed. 

John R. Stomberg served as guest curator of the original exhibition.


 

Introduction