A woman sits on a porch floor looking at a baby in a buggy in an old photograph from the Terri Cappucci Glass Plate Negative Collection

UMass Amherst Libraries Acquire Terri Cappucci Glass Plate Negative Collection Depicting Massachusetts Dating Back to the 1860s

The UMass Amherst Libraries have announced the acquisition of the Terri Cappucci Glass Plate Negative Collection. The archive of 2,500-3,000 glass plate negatives depicting Massachusetts dating back to the 1860s was gifted to local photographer and UMass Amherst alumna Terri Cappucci in July 2019 and was donated to the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (SCUA) in July 2023.

A farmer plows a field with workhorses in one of the images from the Terri Cappucci Glass Plate Negative Collection
One of the images from the Terri Cappucci Glass Plate Negative Collection

Cappucci, who received her MFA at UMass Amherst, is a documentary photographer, alternative process printer and educator who has been producing her own 19th century-style photographs using the wet plate collodion process for many years.  

When Cappucci received the collection in 2019, there was little to no information about where many of the photographs were taken or who photographed them. She created the “Somebody Photographed This” website and Facebook group and also utilized her expertise to determine that the photographs in the overall collection were taken by several different photographers. While most of the collection is from western Massachusetts, specifically Franklin County, there are also images from the coastal towns of the Bay State.

Using funds raised from a GoFundMe campaign for preservation supplies, she cleaned and digitized some of the most compelling images from the collection, posting them to the Facebook page during the pandemic. Followers left comments to share locations, dates and additional information about the photos, and Cappucci has since received additional glass plate negative collections from people from around the world. She has since been featured in articles about the project in The Boston Globe, the Greenfield Recorder, the Montague Reporter and UMass Magazine, along with a televised segment on New England Public Media (NEPM).

In 2023, Cappucci approached SCUA to permanently house the collection amongst their vast holdings of photograph and manuscript collections that document life in New England from the 17th-20th centuries. SCUA will make Cappucci’s scans available via Credo, their repository of digitized archival materials, as well as continue Cappucci’s meticulous work of cataloging, preserving and storing the photos, which will be available to Massachusetts residents, and beyond, for decades to come.

For more information about the collection, contact Annie Sollinger, visual archivist, at annies@library.umass.edu or Jeremy Smith, Daniel Ellsberg archivist, at jlsmith@library.umass.edu.