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Life in Rural New England

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

Life in Rural New England

Reed long sought to define and defend the idea of New England as more than just a geographical distinction. The very idea of what New England meant to Reed informed much of his photography. He consciously constructed a body of images that reflected his ideal for what New England should look like. Like many regional practitioners, he paid special attention to individuals who seemed to exemplify New England. He wanted to demonstrate the validity of rural life and customs at a time when they were being threatened by modernity. Reed shot many of these photographs after he had left the city, preferring life in rural Vermont.

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Poker Player, Morrisville, Vermont, 1950

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Twenty Below Zero, Waterbury, Vermont, 1951

 

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Men at Cattle Auction, Morrisville, Vermont, 1953

In this study of a group of farmers watching a cattle auction, Reed was clearly interested in the character revealed by their weathered faces. The image was published in the National Humane Review as part of a story documenting inhumane treatment of animals during auctions.

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Dowser, Plainfield, Vermont, 1953

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Aroostook County Potato Picking, Maine, 1954

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Tug of War, Caledonia County, Vermont, 1958

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Waiting, Enosburg Falls, Vermont, 1958

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Northern Vermont Family, 1960

When Reed stopped to take a picture of this family in their yard, they asked for a minute to tidy up. The mother did not feel that she had enough presentable clothes for all of her children, and made some of them stay indoors--they can just be seen looking out the window.

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Springtime, Stowe, Vermont, 1971

 

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.


 

Life in Rural New England