Southbridge library to show Bullard photographs

Retired teacher presents program for Black History Month

📷 Portrait of an unknown soldier at Greenhill Park about 1917.  The U.S. military was not integrated at this time. Image from the Bullard Collection courtesy of Frank Morrill. 

SOUTHBRIDGE — The Jacob Edwards Library is pleased to host the part two of “The Photography of William Bullard, 1897-1917: Worcester’s People of Color Community.”

Throughout the month of February, in celebration of Black History Month, another part of the Bullard collection will be on exhibit. Through some good luck, retired teacher Frank Morrill had the opportunity to buy this significant historical collection of a uniquely rare treasure trove of glass plate negatives of African Americans/Native Americans in Worcester.  Last year, another part of the collection was displayed . This year’s exhibit will display many portraits that have never been exhibited in public before.  

Also featured at the Presentation on Thursday, February 27, at 6:30 p.m. will be a discussion by one of the descendants discovered through the research on the Bullard negatives. 

The negatives are those of the late itinerant photographer William S. Bullard, of Worcester and later North Brookfield, who, between 1894 and 1917, took a vast amount of images of the city’s streetscapes, businesses and local residents.  Morrill, who has published several books about Worcester and other local communities, purchased the Bullard collection, approximately 5,400 glass plates, in 2003 to use in further research focused on Worcester streets and architecture.  In 2013 his granddaughter, Hannah, accidently discovered a negative of a person of color that was incorrectly filed and research began that led to this rare historical treasure.  There are approximately 240 images of people of color, mostly living in the Beaver Brook area along Park Avenue within the first four decades of having obtained their freedom.   Approximately 80 percent of the portraits were identified by Bullard in his logbook, which is the key to the collection.   Morrill and Professor Janette Greenwood of Clark University  have researched the identified Bullard sitters since 2014 and have discovered a large number of descendants, many of whom had never seen a photo of, or knew the history of, their ancestors.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.