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One of Historic New England’s most significant photographic collections, the Nathaniel L. Stebbins collection consists of approximately 2,500 original negatives and approximately 6,000 original prints. Dating from the early 1880s to circa 1922, the majority of the images depict recreational sailing vessels, including several entrants in America’s Cup races. Additional types of vessels include commercial sailing craft, steamships, ferries, naval vessels, tugs, and fire and police boats. Boatyards and other dockside facilities are also documented.
Aside from his marine photography, Stebbins had an active practice as an architectural and view photographer, working in Boston and its suburbs as well as resort areas in Maine and New Hampshire. Approximately 125 architectural views are are included with the marine materials. These images depict Boston buildings, streets, statues, and parks, in addition to views of Concord, Lexington, and other historic sites.
Historic New England founder William Sumner Appleton sought after and acquired the Stebbins collection in 1929. Its digitization is an important step in the ongoing Collections Access Project. The Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts, and the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth participated in the digitization of this collection.
Many Stebbins photographs are featured in Historic New England’s publication, The Camera’s Coast.
Explore the Collection: