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A Woman's Pastime

 

ABOVE The photographer's son, John F. Brown, Jr., and his dog, c.1898.
BELOW The children of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Saltonstall in their garden, Milton, Massachusetts, c.1901.

In the late 1890s, Alice Augusta Rogerson Brown (1851-1928) of Milton, Massachusetts, wife of John Freeman Brown, a judge of the Superior Court at Dedham, took up photography. Like other middle- and upper-class women at this time, Mrs. Brown embraced photography as an outlet for her creativity. Advances in technology, notably, the replacement of the cumbersome wet-plate process by dry glass plate negatives, and the ready availability of equipment, materials, and "how to" books and magazine articles made it easy for amateurs to become adept.

With her camera, Mrs. Brown created hundreds of charming portraits of her family and friends, views of her home and garden and her Milton neighborhood, and images of Boston. In addition, she documented rural scenes in and around East Douglas, Massachusetts, where she spent her youth, and recorded her travels in Maine and New Hampshire.

Mrs. Brown's granddaughter, Nancy Rogerson Brown Reuter, recently donated her collection of Mrs. Brown's negatives to SPNEA's Library and Archives. The gift enriches SPNEA's significant holdings of works by other women photographers, including Emma L. Coleman, Mary H. Northend, Harriot Curtis, and Elise Tyson Vaughan.

-Lorna Condon
Curator of Library & Archives

A Woman's Pastime