Glass Plate Negatives

My name is Kaitlin Mitchell and this coming fall I will be a senior at SUNY New Paltz. I am a geography major with a minor in geology. For the summer of 2013, I am interning at Historic Huguenot Street for my major coursework. My interests are in Urban Planning and Historic Preservation which is why I thought HHS would be a great place to do my field work. Thus far I have worked on a several projects including: mapping the Jacob Elting Burying Ground and researching the families buried there, entering genealogical information on the Find-A-Grave website and  interviewing and chronicling the summer archaeology dig.  The first blog I am writing focuses on a particular method of photography that is both interesting and relevant to Historic Huguenot Street.

The photograph below is an example of a Glass Plate Negative that Historic Huguenot Street currently houses in their collection. There is very little known about this photograph aside from its title, “Sydney Palmer’s Flashlight.”  GP072_SidneyPalmer'sFlashlight

The man responsible for taking this image is Byron J. Terwilliger [1867-1962]. Byron was a schoolmaster in Ulster County and was also an avid collector of artifacts and a trustee for the New Paltz Historical Society. Below is a concise history of photography and the development of the glass plate negative.

The history of photography dates back to 1826 when the first permanent image was created by Joseph Nicephore Niepce using the camera obscura. By 1839 Jacques-Mande Daguerre invented the daguerreotype process with the camera obscura and in 1950 Louis Desire Blanquart-Evrard invented the first positive image, making photography more accessible to amateurs. However, the photograph shown couldn’t have been taken before 1851 when the first glass negative was developed by English inventor Frederick Scott Archer.

Glass plate negatives can be created either through the wet collodion or dry plate process. The Wet plate process was the first of the two, which as mentioned above is accredited to Frederick Scott Archer. Collodion is a viscous liquid that traces its origins back to the Crimean War and was originally used for covering soldiers wounds. Archer found that its properties when mixed with bromides, alcohol, ether and iodides among other things, also made it an ideal candidate for adhering light sensitive materials to glass. Unfortunately, collodion also dried within about ten minutes and lost its sensitivity, making it a difficult medium to work with. For this reason, photographers using this process had traveling dark rooms so the development could be done on site. The entire process of creating a wet collodion photograph can be summed up into four parts: prepping the plate, sensitizing the plate, developing the plate and varnishing the plate. The wet collodion method was popularly until 1880. In 1871 a British Doctor and Photographer named Richard Leach Maddox invented the dry plate process which once again revolutionized photography and made it even more accessible to amateurs. To create the dry plate Maddox used silver bromide and gelatin as an adhesive to the glass plate. He also developed less toxic sensitizing, fixing and development solutions that not only exposed and developed faster but also were much more forgiving that the previous glass plate method. It was in fact because of R.L. Maddox that George Eastman was able invent a machine for the mass production of gelatin dry plates which shortly lead to the founding of the Eastman Dry Plate Company and then the Eastman Kodak Company by 1888.

To watch a video of wet collodion process: 

Hoffman, Scott, and Korena Di Roma. “Image Collection.” National Geographic. Ed. Nancy Gupton. N.p.,n.d. Web. 02 July 2013.

Orlove, Eden. “The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian.” Highlight from the Photo Cold  Vault: Gelatin Dry Plate Negatives. N.p., 9 May 2013. Web. 02 July 2013.

“Photography: The Wet Collodion Process.” Photography: The Wet Collodion Process. N.p., n.d. Web. 02.  July 2013.

“Syracuse University Archives: Exhibits – “Handle with Care: Glass Plate Negative and Lantern Slide

Collections at the SU Archives”.” Syracuse University Archives: Exhibits – “Handle with Care: Glass

Plate Negative and Lantern Slide Collections at the SU Archives”. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2013.

Posted in Education, Historical Photographs, History, Internship | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Thread of Families: The Snyder Friendship Quilt

My name is Ashley Trainor, and I am a junior at SUNY New Paltz. I am currently pursuing a major in history with a minor in anthropology. I have returned for another semester to intern at Historic Huguenot Street. My projects from past semesters have varied. During my first semester as an intern, I did extensive research on textiles, more specifically, on coverlets. My second semester was a little different. I worked in the archives learning how to catalogue rare books into PastPerfect museum software. I am back, but working on something a little different.

Mr. Christopher Snyder Saugerties

Mr. Christopher Snyder

President Abraham Lincolh President 1865

President Abraham Lincolh
President 1865

Snyder Quilt

Snyder Quilt

In the beginning of the semester, I was shown a friendship quilt. It was donated to the Permanent Collection at Historic Huguenot Street but there was no information of its provenance. The quilt has 72 blocks on it, with 63 of these blocks having signatures. The first thing that stood out to me was that there were three signatures of famous individuals. “Abraham Lincoln President of US America 1865,” “Mrs. Abraham Lincoln,” and “Gen. U.S. Grant” each had their own block. Several signatures on the quilt are repetitive and are repeated throughout such as: Snyder, Shaw, and Readon. Other last names that appear on the quilt are Thomson, Russell, Fuller, Suderly, and Schoonmaker. The name Snyder appears on thirteen separate blocks. Some of the names had towns signed along with names. Most of the towns are located in Ulster County, such as Saugerties, Kingston, and High Falls.

As I continued my research on the quilt, it became more and more obvious that all of the people who signed the quilt were intertwined. My research methods consisted of using to find census and voting records, as well as marriage and death announcements. I also spent quite a bit of time searching for gravestone and cemetery records at My research started with the Snyder family since the Snyder name was repeated  many times on the quilt. I spent hours reading through census and voting records in Saugerties hoping to find information on the Snyder family. I was lucky enough to find records and a family tree that matched names on the quilt. Leah, (b. 1799) and Noah Snyder (b. 1797) were married until  Leah’s death in 1843. Noah and Leah had eight children, all names found on the quilt. Their children were Sarah Elizabeth, Christopher, Susan M., Nelly A., Rachel C., William A., Leah, and Martin. Daughter Susan, married a man named Thomas S. Thomson and had two children, Orrin and Ianthe. Both of the children’s names appear on the quilt.

Several names on the quilt such as: Sarah Elizabeth Snyder (1807 – 1810), Leah Snyder who died in 1843, and Rachel C. Snyder who died in 1862, are of people that died before the quilt was made.  According to the 1850 and 1860 Federal Census, the entire Snyder family along with Orin and Iantha, Susan’s children, lived in one household.

It seems as though the biggest challenge of identifying a quilt that lacks any information is dating it. Luckily after looking at the census records for these people, many of these names had birth, death, and marriage dates attached that made it easy to date the quilt from during or a bit after Lincoln’s presidency.

As I mentioned earlier, another last name repeated on the quilt is Readon. It is repeated on seven blocks. Through census and voting records from 1870 and 1880 from Kingston, New York, I found some key people on the quilt. Nellie A. Readon was born in 1827 and was widowed by 1880. Her husband’s name was Hiram S. Readon, known as H. S. Readon. His name appears on the quilt. In the 1880 census, Nellie was widowed but according to a United States City Directory, H. S. resided in Kingston with his family and worked as a machinist in 1873. Nellie and her two daughters, lived at 52 Bowery Street in Kingston, New York. Elnora was born in 1861, and Lottie was born six years later in 1867. Lottie, however, is not featured on the quilt. The fact that Lottie’s name was not written on the quilt helps us date the quilt between 1865 and 1866.

Intertwined with Snyder, Readon, and others in between, the Shaw family takes up eleven blocks on this quilt. I found information on these people on the New York census. Of the eleven names on the quilt, there are two married couples along with their children. What becomes confusing, however, is that some of these children according to census records are found on the quilt while others are not. The Shaw family is a confusing web that I am in the process of untangling.

There are three names on the quilt whose story still remain a mystery. The grave sites of John Rapp, Jane M. Shaw, and John B. Readon are all inscribed on the same gravestone in the High Falls Cemetery. According to the gravestone, John Rapp fought in the Mexican War and was married to Jane M. Shaw. John Readon was listed incorrectly on the census of 1870, with his last name written as Reddin. As this confused me, I learned that mistakes were and still are often made while taking census. John worked on the D & H Canal and lived with the Rapp family. In the time I have left here this spring, I hope to find more information regarding John B. Readon.

As you can tell, these webs of intertwined families can become quite complicated. Although I do not understand the entire family history, finding these connections are truly exciting. When given an artifact with virtually no information attached, it becomes your mission to find associations between the people and families on the quilt. An aspect that has excited me most was that now I can give an estimate of the date this quilt was made based on the political names on the quilt as well as by knowing marriage, birth, and death dates. As my research and interest continues to grow, it is clear that the history attached to these friendship quilts is vast. My ultimate goal with this quilt and any other unidentified friendship quilts that I am given, is to discover who the quilter was. Expanding on this and discovering why this quilt was made would be even more exciting. That would be the most fulfilling part of my research.

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The Lives They Lived

Grave Pictures 079Hello, my name is Matthew Moskowitz and I am an intern here at Historic Huguenot Street. It has been a long time since this blog has been updated, yet I have been doing some interesting work. My current topic of research is the Jacob Elting Burial Ground located in New Paltz. I have been looking up genealogical information on the interred people and posting it on the website, Find-A-Grave, an online database of cemetery records.

Throughout this project I have had to use a variety of both primary and secondary sources to discover who is buried in the cemetery, and to learn about these people’s lives. My first stop was the book, Old Gravestones of Ulster County by Dr. J. Wilson Poucher and Byron Terwilliger. This book contains the names of all the people buried in a selection of Ulster County cemeteries, including the Elting Burial Ground.

I began with a list of the interred and some of their birth and death dates. My next step was to cross reference this list with a list that appeared on a map of the cemetery from 1962 that we have here at Huguenot Street. This map was one of the maps that I catalogued and organized during one of my previous internships here. It was satisfying to be able to reference something that I had spent time working on previously.

I am currently working on finding out who these people were and to discover their stories. Many of the people buried in the cemetery have the same last names. I also wanted to find out what were the relationships between these people. I have since gone to the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Library to look up obituaries from local newspapers. Obituaries are a fascinating historical resource, as they are summations of a person’s entire life in a brief paragraph. I have discovered some interesting facts about these people, such as Alfred Harcourt, who as a publisher was associated with writers such as Robert Frost and Virginia Woolf. I also learned that one of the people buried in the cemetery, John Elting, died by falling down an elevator shaft in India.

As the Find-A-Grave database grows, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My hope is that people who are searching for information on family members might be able to learn something from the work that I have done. That would be the greatest achievement of all.

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Full Circle!

My name is Matt Moskowitz, and I am an art history major at SUNY New Paltz. This semester, I have returned for another internship at Historic Huguenot Street, and have wasted no time diving back into my blacksmith research. My goal is to discover the location of blacksmith shops in New Paltz and the surrounding area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

During this research, I have spent many hours sifting through census records and genealogies, often encountering nothing but dead ends. At times, it can be discouraging but when I do come across something interesting and useful, I feel a rush of excitement and energy. It’s akin to unearthing a little treasure especially since finding an old blacksmith shop is something of a rarity.

Last week, I had my biggest find yet. Often one can find something very useful by accident or stumbling upon it. This happened when I came across the will of Jacob Hasbrouck dated 1761. At first, it appeared that the will included nothing pertaining to my research. I was about to move on to another document but then I came to the end of the will and the following witnesses were listed: “Witness: Daniel Bevier, Daniel Hasbrouck, Johannes Matyes Lou, blacksmith”.

I now had my lead. I knew the blacksmith’s last name was “Lou” and that he was living in or near New Paltz in 1761. I also know that the “Low” or “Lowe” family is a local family and thought that they might be one and the same.  As such, I looked in the 1909 book, History of New Paltz and Its Old Families by Ralph LeFevre, which contains a very short section on the Low family. In the book, I learned that Johannes M. Low was born in 1706 to Matthew Cornelius and Jannetje Van Heyning. It looked as if I had found my man. The book also stated that Johannes married Rebecca Freer in 1735 so I looked in the Freer genealogy book, hoping to find where Johannes and Rebecca lived. The entry on Rebecca stated that she was the daughter of Hugo Freer, and after Hugo’s death, she and her husband built the house that is currently known as the Freer-Low house, located right here on Huguenot Street. I now have evidence indicating that a blacksmith lived on Huguenot Street in the mid-eighteenth century.

When researching a specific topic, it is doubtful that something will turn up, whether it is a diary, will, census or some other document that answers all the questions. It is up to the historian to piece together clues in order to create a larger picture. My work is far from over as there are still more blacksmiths waiting to be discovered.  So stay tuned.

Posted in Architecture, Historic Houses, History, Internship, Research | Tagged | 1 Comment

Photo Friday: a 19th century photographic journey (photo 14) – “At Attention”

On the Street has been on a short hiatus for the past month, but we’re back.  We’d also like to congratulate Julie Traywick. Julie is the winner of our Photo Friday contest and can redeem her prize for a free tour here at Historic Huguenot Street.

Additionally, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Faiqa and I’m a new intern here at Historic Huguenot Street. I’m a junior at SUNY New Paltz, studying Secondary Education and History.

I will be the new blogger on our site and hope to continue the Photo Friday posts, as they provide a glance into the past two centuries of local history. Working here for only a few weeks has already taught me that some of the streets of New Paltz share the same names of these old houses and the people that lived in them. I hope to learn all that I can and invite you to participate in my discovery of Huguenot Street.

This week’s photograph features twelve cadets standing at attention. They are standing at what was the New Paltz Normal School. Behind the cadets we can see bales of hay that were used for bayoneting practice. New Paltz has a long history of sending troops off to war. As early as the American Revolution, there have been soldiers from New Paltz and its  surrounding areas participating in warfare.

The history of the New Paltz Normal School is a interesting one. The building once stood near the foot of Huguenot Street, where condominiums now stand. The term “normal” was used to designate schools that taught students to become teachers. From the school’s onset, its intentions were to groom and educate future teachers. These cadets are standing outside of a building that was very important to the early New Paltz community. The Normal School went through several additions, one major renovation and a devastating fire which occurred in 1906. Eventually, the decision was made to move the school to its current location on the SUNY New Paltz campus. In 1909, the State University of New York opened the new Normal School and gave the name “Old Main” to the cornerstone building.

As a current student at SUNY New Paltz, it surprised me to know that Old Main was so closely tied to Huguenot Street. It reassures me that I am studying education at a school that has been training teachers for decades.

For more on the history of the Normal School, see our exhibit, Education in a Valley Fair, on HRVH.


Posted in Education, History | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Photo Friday: a 19th century photographic journey (photo 13)

This Friday’s photograph shows a couple of men hard at work. Think of a caption for the photo and post it to our blog or Facebook page. Keep in mind that when you post a caption your name is automatically entered in our caption contest. The winner will be announced in September and receive a free standard tour of Huguenot Street.

The photo from last week features a group of friends who are seemingly drinking alcohol together at a bar. Again, we don’t know who these people are or where it was taken, but it was found in the Matthew Fitch Hasbrouck Photograph Collection. Alcohol is a beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years for various cultural and religious reasons. In fact, there is archaeological evidence that alcohol was purposefully fermented as early as the Neolithic Period, 10,000 B.C. From the beginning, alcohol has been regularly used in religious worship. It was often offered as a gift to the gods or deities for good fortune. Aside from religious rituals, alcohol has historically been an important source of calories for populations that were nutritionally deficient, as it contains high levels of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. It was also consumed daily as a source of hydration, because the water that was available was often too dirty and polluted to drink. Yet another function that alcohol served was for medicinal purposes. There is research that suggests that alcohol reduces the risk of diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. It was used fairly often to eradicate pain as well. Finally, alcohol increases enjoyment, and has always been used in social situations for entertainment and relaxation. Alcohol is a beverage that has been consistently consumed throughout history, and although there are some negative problems associated with alcohol today, it is likely to be used for a long time to come.

This will be my final blog post for Photo Friday, and next week it will be continued by another intern. It has been both a joy and pleasure writing this series, and I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

-Kathryn Marks, Summer Intern

Posted in History, Internship | 1 Comment

Photo Friday: a 19th century photographic journey (photo 12)

This week’s photograph features a group of people hanging out and letting off some steam. Think of a caption for the photo and post it as a comment to our blog or to our Facebook wall. Each person that provides a caption will automatically be entered into our caption contest, and can potentially win a standard family tour of Huguenot Street.

Last Friday’s photograph is from the Matthew Fitch Hasbrouck Photograph Collection, but we know nothing else about who the men in the photo are, where it was taken, or when it was taken. The two men are seemingly enjoying a beautiful day by taking their car out for a drive. Today automobiles are an integral part of everyday life, but that wasn’t always so. During the late 1700s, European engineers began to experiment with creating a vehicle powered by a motor. Over the next century, prototypes were built with steam, combustion, or electrical motors. The automobile was constantly changing as technology progressed. Early manufacturers preferred electric cars over gas-powered cars because gas-powered cars had to be started with a hand crank. When gas-powered cars were invented without hand cranks, the electric car became obsolete. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that commercial production of the gas-powered automobile began in the United States. In the early years of the automobile, they were largely a status symbol for the wealthy, but became increasingly cheaper and accessible to the middle class over time. They were popular because it allowed for the general public to travel where they wanted, when they wanted. Due to the convenience of the automobile, they have become the most common form of transportation in the U.S.

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