Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Verner Reed Archives

Dec 20, 2022

Verner and Deborah Reed’s generous 2002 gift of 26,000 negatives greatly expanded Historic New England’s mid-twentieth-century photography collection. The portraits, landscapes, and images capturing special moments and current events document urban and rural life in New England from the 1950s to the ’80s.

Reed’s magazine work

Throughout the 1950s, Reed was the primary freelance photographer for Life magazine in New England and shot more than 1,600 rolls of film. In addition to Life, Reed’s work was also featured in Fortune, Paris Match, Time, and Yankee. When he moved to Vermont in 1960, he developed a lasting relationship with Vermont Life magazine and continued to explore and chronicle New England.

Documenting New England stories

Reed’s photographs tell many stories about New England. They record places and people and document an era. They are also rich with artistry, wit, and insights into human nature – all of which reflect the character of the man behind the camera.

Reed felt, “A photograph should speak for itself. If it has captured the essence of the moment, no explanation is needed.”

Here are a few of those moments.

Still illustrating New England stories

In addition to Historic New England’s online exhibition of selected works, images from the Verner Reed Archives have been seen in magazines, newspapers, books, and exhibitions. Currently, a Reed photograph is on view at the Portland Museum of Art in the exhibition Presence: The Photography Collection of Judy Glickman Lauder. The exhibition is on display through January 15, 2023.

Collections at Historic New England

Historic New England’s Library and Archives is one of the world’s largest repositories of New England archival documents. The collection includes 1.5 million items, including photographs, architectural drawings, manuscripts, and ephemera that record the social, cultural, and architectural history of the region.