The Longfellow Family Photograph Collection holds photograph albums and loose photographs owned by or associated with members of the Longfellow family including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, his brother Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr., and their wives and children. Professional portrait photographs in the carte-de-visite and cabinet card format comprise a large portion of the collection. Members of the family took photographs of their relatives and homes. Subjects include the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, ME, Wadsworth Hall in Hiram, ME, and the Stephen Longfellow House in Gorham, ME.
The collection is organized into four subcollections:
Family members owned most of the photographs made before 1920, which resided in the House until the National Park Service assumed control in 1972. The Longfellow House Trust and H.W.L. Dana also acquired materials including photographs, particularly copy photographs of portraits. The albums are arranged roughly in chronological order as most dates are approximated. Because of the greater problem of dating the photographs not in albums, those within a sub-series may not be not arranged chronologically.
While the Longfellow Family Photograph Collection comprises the largest single collection of photographs in the archives, there are many family images within other collections, notably the Henry W. Longfellow Family Papers, Charles Longfellow Papers, and Alice Longfellow Papers. H.W.L. Dana is believed to have removed photographs from albums and placed them in his research files, now in the H.W.L. Dana Papers. Consult their finding aids for additional photograph listings.
A full finding aid to the collection and item-level descriptions of photographs are available on request. Contact the park archivist by email or call (617) 491-1054.
The photographs of the Longfellow family are characteristic of the images held by other families of their times in many ways. The standard daguerreotype, ambrotype, and carte-de-visite and cabinet card images taken in photography studios are similar to others from the nineteenth century. The younger members of the family, like many others, recorded their excursions and comradeship in the comparatively cheap medium of tintype in the 1860s through 1880s. The platinum prints of Joseph Thorp Jr. (1852-1931), the cyanotype photographs by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. (1854-1934) and his brother Richard (1864-1914) and the Kodak snapshots taken by their sister Mary King Longfellow (1852-1945) reflect the intense interest of amateur photographers in general. The distinction of this collection is the celebrity of its most famous member, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the pride his family members expressed in him and in their shared ancestry.
Longfellow, like all his contemporaries, gave and received photographs as tokens of respect or affection. He kindly requested his very young nephew Richard King Longfellow (1864-1914) to send him a new one: “[Your Mama] showed me your photograph … when you get any more, you must send me one.” He asked distant friends to send him their likenesses to reestablish personal contact. Unlike most persons, his acquaintances also included royalty like the Emperor of Brazil who asked for more portrait photographs as a friend wished them and he was “unwilling to part with those he possess[ed].” Due to his fame however, “entire strangers” asked him for his photograph and he politely obliged. He had his photograph taken more often than other men due to this demand, joking about his pictorial ideal: “Decency and good looks before likeness, which is often very disagreeable.”
His works, family, and reputation became intertwined in the photographic medium. His daughter Alice Mary Longfellow (1850-1928) posed as a young Evangeline in Breton costume between her two sisters. The Thomas Buchanan Read portrait of his daughters was produced as a carte-de-visite as well as a print in response to its popularity as a representation of the “blue-eyed bandetti” in “The Children’s Hour.” Friends sent him images of Dante as he wrote his translation of the Divine Comedy.
As the generations passed, the family more keenly remembered their colonial forebears. Her granddaughters Elizabeth Longfellow Dodge (1856-1889) and Lucia Longfellow Barrett (1859-1940) donned Zilpah Wadsworth Longfellow’s empire-style gowns for a professional portrait. The ancestral homes of General Peleg Wadsworth in Hiram, Maine and that of Judge Stephen Longfellow in Gorham were photographed. Family members Mary King Longfellow and probably Joseph Gilbert Thorp Jr., the husband of Anne Allegra Longfellow, took series of Anne Longfellow Pierce (1810-1901) towards the end of her life in the family home, the Wadsworth-Longfellow house known affectionately as the “Old Original.”
Letters and diaries portray the closeness of the families of Henry and Alexander Longfellow to each other and to their childless siblings, Samuel, Mary Greenleaf, and Anne Pierce. The photographs amplify our understanding of these relationships. Many copies of their portraits given to one another are in this collection, and portraits of the same friends are in each other’s family albums. Amateur photographs and snapshots document shared yachting trips, summer vacations, and European travel.
Subcollection I. Related to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) and Frances Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow (1817-1861)
A. Photograph Albums, c. 1868 - c. 1890
This series contains thirteen albums with the majority of photographs inscribed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow himself. It is unclear whether Henry Longfellow arranged and placed photos in the albums himself or whether a family member composed the albums. As most dates are approximated, albums are not in strict chronological order. See also Albums 1-4 and 13-14 in the sub-collection Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Family (3007.002/001) for other photographs of Henry Longfellow friends.
B. Photographs Not in Albums
Henry Longfellow and his immediate family probably owned many of these images which remained in the House until its transfer to the National Park Service in 1972.
Mostly photographic portraits of Henry Longfellow, primarily carte-des-visite and cabinet photographs make up this sub-series. It also includes copy photographs of portrait sculptures and paintings. The 1852 group portrait of Henry Longfellow, Fanny Longfellow, and their friends at Newport, RI including Julia Ward Howe has several copies. (211 photographs)
Photographs related to but not portraying Longfellow. Includes friends and places associated with Longfellow such as Bowdoin classmates, buildings at Bowdoin, the tomb at Mount Auburn Cemetery, and the Longfellow Memorials in Cambridge and Washington, DC. (158 photographs)
Photographs relating to places, events, and people in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry such as the Wayside Inn, Miles Standish, and Dante Alighieri are in this sub-series. It includes 20th century events commemorating Evangeline and the Acadians and Hiawatha. (76 photographs)
This sub-series is mostly photographic portraits of Fanny Longfellow which includes daguerreotypes of paintings of her. (35 photographs)
Subcollection II. Related to Descendants of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) and Frances Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow (1817-1861)
A. Photograph Albums, c. 1845-1927
This series includes 35 photograph albums. An unidentified member of the Henry Longfellow family possibly composed Albums 1 to 4 from friends' and relatives' portraits which had accumulated from the 1860s to 1880s. Albums 6 to 8, 9 and 10, and 15 contain stock photography of scenery and celebrities purchased in Europe during the family's 1868-69 trip and were probably arranged by a member of the Henry Longfellow family. The Thorp family albums (Albums 21-26) show the daughters as girls and young women as well as exterior and interior views of the Thorp homes at 115 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass. and at Greenings Island, ME. Albums 27-29 relate the Longfellow family's expedition to the Ojibway reenactment of "Hiawatha" on 25 August 1900. The Joseph Gilbert Thorp Jr. family probably owned the albums he composed from photographs he probably made.
B. Photographs Not in Albums
Formats include nineteenth-century carte-des-visites, cabinet photographs, and twentieth-century copy photography.
1. Related to Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow (1845-1921) and Harriet Spelman Longfellow (1848-1937), c. 1861 - c. 1950
Images related to Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow and his wife Harriet Seplman Longfellow include photographic portraits and a group of interiors and exteriors of their house "Edgecliff" on Coolidge Point in Manchester, MA. His major painting "Sacred and Profane Love" is in several photoprints. (54 photographs)
2. Related to Edith Longfellow Dana (1853-1915), c. 1854 - c. 1944
This sub-series includes photographic portraits of Edith (Longfellow) Dana alone and with others including her husband Richard Henry Dana III. Copy photographs of sculpture bust by William Rinehart are also present. (49 photographs)
3. Related to Anne Allegra Longfellow Thorp (1855-1934) and Her Descendants, c. 1861 - c. 1950
Includes photographic portraits of Anne Allegra (Longfellow) Thorp and many images related to her five daughters taken by her husband Joseph Gilbert Thorp Jr. Several images show her granddaughters as young children. (363 photographs)
4. Family and Other Group Photographs, c. 1851 - c. 1950
Family portraits and members of family with others comprise this group. It includes many images of the young Longfellow daughters with their governess Hannah Davie and with other friends. Copy photographs of G.P.A. Healy's paintings of Henry Longfellow and daughter Edith are in this sub-series. (71 photographs)
5. Persons and Places Related to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Family, c. 1863 - c. 1910
This sub-series includes portraits of family friends and places visited by family. Several images relating to the reenactment of Hiawatha by the Ojibway tribe were published in the 1901 Riverside edition of Hiawatha with the introduction by Alice Longfellow. (62 photoraphs)
Subcollection III. Related to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr. Family
A. Photograph Albums, c. 1868-1915
Twenty albums comprise this series. Several are small albums filled with gem tintypes. Others contain carte-de-visite and cabinet card photographs of family and friends. Three of Alexander and Elizabeth Longfellow's children, Mary King Longfellow, Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr., and Richard King Longfellow, took photographs themselves and composed albums. Leisure activities including yachting, hunting, and picnicking are shown. Other subjects include colonial and federal architectural details and interiors of the family home at 37 South Street, Portland, ME.
B. Photographs Not in Albums, c. 1845 - c. 1950
Formats include tintypes, cyanotypes, and early gelatin silver print snapshots.
1. Related to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr. (1814-1901), c. 1848 - c. 1950
Photographs related to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr. (1814-1901) include photographic portraits of him and copy photographs of Ernest Longfellow's oil painting of him entitled "The Smoker." Several persons portrayed were associated with the U.S. Coast Survey. (30 photographs)
2. Related to Elizabeth Clapp Porter Longfellow (1822-1904), c. 1845 - c.1900
Most are photographic portraits of Elizabeth Longfellow including those taken in her youth. Multiple copies of images taken in her old age indicate that these were family favorites. (29 photographs)
3. Related to Mary King Longfellow (1852-1945), c. 1858 - c. 1923
Snapshots by Mary King Longfellowcomprise the bulk of this group; they are mostly copies of prints in her albums with her family and friends, the dogs Tip and Fuzzy, and interiors of 37 South Street, the Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr. family home in Portland as subjects. A few (-26 to -31) show her artwork. Photographic portraits of Mary Longfellow are included. Two Japanese screens in the LONG collection are shown in her home (-45 to -49 by Kano). (388 photographs)
See also photo albums by Mary King Longfellow (3007-3-1-8 to 11a). The following sub-series have photographs attributed to her: Photographs Related to AWL Sr. Family, Related to ALP, and Related to MLG.
4. Related to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. (1854-1934), c. 1876 - c. 1930
Photographs related to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. include photographic portraits of himself and his friends. A few relate to his work as an architect. Many demonstrate his interest in boats and ships. Professional photographs depict the interiors of his Harvard rooms, his architectural offices, and his later home on Beacon Hill in Boston. (698 photographs)
5. Related to Elizabeth Longfellow Dodge (1856-1891)
This sub-series holds mostly photographic portraits of Elizabeth Longfellow Dodge as a girl and young woman. One interior shows the decorations for her 1878 wedding to Edward Dodge. (37 photographs)
6. Related to Lucia Longfellow Barrett (1859-1940)
Photographic portraits of Lucia Longfellow Barrett and her husband Franklin Barrett make up most of this sub-series. Travel snapshots attributed to her show scenes in Italy, the Dalmatian Coast, and elsewhere. (47 photographs)
7. Related to Richard King Longfellow (1864-1914)
Informal shots of Richard King Longfellow hunting complement professional photographic portraits. One photograph with him in front of an easel with artwork indicates his interest in watercolors. (37 photographs)
8. Family and Other Group Photographs
Subjects include family members and friends. Important images of 1873 "Castine Party" illustrate the Alexander Longfellow's children and their friends gathered in photographer's studio to commemorate sailing outing. H.W.L. Dana identifies Richard King Longfellow as the photographer of the 1887 Thanksgiving Day photographs when Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr.'s siblings and his children gathered at 37 South Street, Portland, ME. (48 photographs)
9. Persons and Places Related to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Sr. Family
Mary King Longfellow and Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. may have taken many of the informal photographs in this sub-series. Professional portraits of family friends are included. (186 photographs)
Subcollection IV. Related to Additional Longfellow Family Relatives and Sites
A. Photograph Albums
At this time, there are no albums attributed to the Henry Longfellow siblings or to William Pitt Preble Longfellow.
B. Photographs Not in Albums, c. 1865 - c.1950
These photographs are associated with the other Henry Longfellow siblings and other members of the Longfellow and Wadsworth families.
1. Related to Anne Longfellow Pierce (1810-1901), c. 1865 - c. 1950
Photographic portraits of Anne Pierce include those taken during the family's European trip of 1868 to 1869. (16 photographs)
2. Related to Mary Longfellow Greenleaf (1816-1902), c. 1870 - c. 1900
This sub-series consists mostly of portraits of Mary Greenleaf and images of her home at 67 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA. It includes twentieth-century copy negatives of portraits and a sampler. (35 photographs)
3. Related to Samuel Longfellow (1819-1892), c. 1860 - c. 1892
Professional and amateur portraits of Rev. Samuel Longfellow comprise this group which includes a photograph of memorial plaque. (81 photographs)
4. Related to William Pitt Preble Longfellow and Emily Longfellow, c. 1860 - c. 1900
Although William Pitt Preble Longfellow himself was an amateur photographer, at this time there are no photographs attributed to him. This sub-series holds professional portrait photographs of his wife Emily and himself including a set showing them in colonial costume. (12 photographs)
5. Related to Other Longfellow and Wadsworth Family Members, c. 1900 - c. 1950
This sub-series includes copy photographs of nineteenth-century portraits probably collected by H.W.L. Dana in the time of the Longfellow House Trust. There is a small amount associated with Stephen Longfellow, Henry Longfellow's brother, and his family apart from William Pitt Preble Longfellow. (32 photographs)
6. Related to Longfellow and Wadsworth Sites, 1883 - c. 1940
Subjects include the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, ME, Wadsworth Hall in Hiram, ME, the Stephen Longfellow House in Gorham, ME, and the Wadsworth family graveyard with the memorial to Henry Wadsworth (1785-1804). (92 photographs)
Last updated: March 24, 2023