Elizabeth (Tyson) Vaughan photographic collection


The collection contains 250 glass plate negatives created by Elise Tyson between 1905 and 1909 principally in South Berwick, Maine, at Hamilton house, in the immediate area, or on another unidentified estate. Subjects include landscapes of the South Berwick area, portraits of Tyson’s friends, photographs of the gardens and interior of Hamilton House, and still lifes arranged by Elise, all of which document - in an often lovely fashion - life at Hamilton House in its early years.


Descriptive Terms

historic houses
landscapes (representations)
still lifes
dry collodion negatives

Finding Aid Info

An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England’s Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library & Archives.

Custodial History

The negatives were found in their original boxes at the Curtis house in Manchester, Massachusetts. The collection was donated to Historic New England in 2005.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Elizabeth (Tyson) Vaughan photographic collection

Date of Acquisition


Reference Code



The Elizabeth (Tyson) Vaughan photographic collections contains 250 6.5 by 8.5 inch glass plate negatives taken by the gifted amateur photographer between 1905 and 1909. Her subject matter includes images of the fields, gardens, and woods by Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine; portraits of family and friends, both posing for the camera and captured in the midst of leisurely activity; Hamilton House interiors; nicely arranged still life studies; and photographs of garden flowers, ferns, and house pets. Among the people whom Tyson caught on camera are painter George Porter Fernald, actress Edith Wynne Matthison (Kennedy), playwright Charles Rann Kennedy, stepmother Emily Davis Tyson, and friends Frances Greely Curtis, Margaret and Harriot Sumner Curtis, and Elinor Curtis Hopkinson and children. The volume of the collection allows the researcher to trace Tyson’s practice as an amateur photographer, as we can see that she often reused props and settings or took series of photographs of the same slightly varied subjects. A small sample (45) of the glass plate negatives was scanned to create digital reproductions. The negatives were originally housed in thirty dry plate negative boxes at the Curtis house in Manchester, Massachusetts and were donated to Historic New England in 2005.


South Berwick (York county, Maine)

Record Details


Vaughan, Elizabeth (Tyson), 1871-1949 (Photographer)

Material Type

dry collodion negatives

Other People

Curtis, Frances Greely, 1867-1957
Curtis, Harriot Sumner, 1881-1974
Curtis, Margaret, 1883-1965
Hopkinson, Elinor Curtis, 1869-1947
Tyson, Emily Davis, 1856-1922
Fernald, George Porter
Hopkinson, Harriot, 1904-2005
Kennedy, Charles Rann, 1871-1950
Matthison, Edith Wynne, 1875-1955
Vaughan, Henry G. (Henry Goodwin)


This collection is available for research.

Conservation Note

The glass plate negatives were removed from their original boxes and re-housed in individual acid-free sleeves for proper vertical storage. The original boxes with inscriptions were retained.


There are no physical restrictions on this collection. There are no technical restrictions on this collection.

Description Level


Accruals Note

Accruals are not expected.

Language Note

Materials are entirely in English.

Processing Information

Amelia Alvarez

Rules and Conventions

This finding aid is DACS-compliant.

Related Items

Photographs by Elise Tyson Vaughan

Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

Elizabeth (also known as Elise) Tyson (1871-1949) (later Mrs. Henry G. Vaughan) was the daughter of the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In 1898, author Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) convinced Elise and her widowed stepmother, Emily Davis Tyson (1849-1922), to purchase Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine. The Tysons were part of a new wave of summer residents who were caught up in the Colonial Revival romance of owning country houses which reflected the grace and prosperity of colonial forbears and provided a healthful rural retreat away from the heat and pollution of cities.
The Tysons hired Herbert Browne of the Boston architectural firm Little and Browne to oversee some interior changes and to design additions to the west and east sides of the house. The Tysons also embarked on creating a grand Colonial Revival-style garden at the east side of the house encircled by an elaborate pergola. All major work was completed by 1900. Important additions to the property made in the following decade included murals painted in the parlor and dining room of the house by George Porter Fernald and the construction of a charming garden cottage fitted with interior paneling salvaged from a colonial home in Newington, New Hampshire.
Luckily, Elise Tyson was a gifted amateur photographer whose photographs of interior and garden views of the property as well as of visiting friends and family and of the surrounding landscape provide a rare and wonderful glimpse into life at the Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine.


"Hamilton House History," accessed April 10, 2014, http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/hamilton-house/history



The collection is arranged in 30 series, based on the original dry plate boxes in which the negatives were found. The boxes are numbered in chronological order based on the pencil inscriptions on the exteriors of the boxes, although upon examination, the contents of some boxes do not match with their given labels. Within each series, each glass plate was assigned a number in order to preserve the original order of the box. Titles of boxes in quotations were assigned by Tyson. Titles not in quotations were assigned by processor.