Glass Plates Come Alive

The Libraries acquired the Terri Cappucci Glass Plate Negative Collection from local photographer Terri Cappucci ’00BA,’03MFA who donated 2,500-3,000 glass plate negatives that date back to the 1860s in order for the collection to be preserved for posterity. Cappucci, who received her MFA at UMass Amherst, is a documentary photographer, alternative process printer, and educator who has been producing her own nineteenth century-style photographs using the wet plate collodion process for many years. Most of the collection is from Western Massachusetts, specifically Franklin County, but there are also images from the coastal towns of Massachusetts.

Cappucci acquired this collection of glass plate negatives from a collector who was in the process of moving and no longer had room for them. He was aware of Cappucci’s work and wanted to pass them on to someone who would see their value and would be able to ensure they were properly preserved, digitized, and archived. Cappucci was in the process of clearing out space in her own studio, so she nearly declined the opportunity. However, upon seeing some of the negatives in print, Cappucci recognized the value of making these historical images available for researchers, scholars, and community members curious about the Massachusetts of the previous century. Cappucci provided exceptional care and stewardship for these negatives, taking it upon herself to learn conservation and preservation techniques and even cleaning many of the fragile plates herself prior to digitizing them – and with great results, as you can see from the photos reproduced in this article.

Scan the QR code below with your phone’s camera or visit
to view additional photos as they’re added to the collection.