Michalowska was introduced to the glass plate negative collection when volunteering at the library with special collections librarian Richard Ring. "There's a lot of mysteries involved," she tells me. Who took the photos, what they show, and how they ended up in the library's collection are — right now — unclear. (I suggest they post photos online and invite tips from the community.) So the images can feel unmoored in history — a particular frustration in photos like these that tend to be more interesting for what they show than how they show it.
Besides the Corliss photos, a couple shots stick with me. One is a pair of studio portraits of a weathered middle-aged woman. She appears severe, but in one shot betrays a hint of a smile. The negative is screwed up, but wrong in a right way, so that her head seems to emerge like a dream from a black mist. The other shows a large Victorian house that was (is?) around here somewhere. It stands alone, looming over an expanse of dirt road. At the street corner in the foreground, a pole supports wires — perhaps for a trolley line — a sign of the coming growth of the town, a sign of the future.
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: Museum And Gallery
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