John L. Lovell Collection


John L. Lovell Collection


John L. Lovell (1825-1903) was a professional photographer. He came to Amherst in 1856 and established the Amherst Picture Gallery, the first photographic studio in Western Massachusetts. In addition to studio work, Lovell was interested in scientific photography, accompanying an Amherst College astronomical team to California in 1882, as well as photographing Connecticut Valley geological features.

His photos provide the best visual documentation from the 1860s to the 1890s of the successive transitions Amherst made from an agricultural town, to an industrial one, and finally, to a town known chiefly for its educational institutions. Moreover, Lovell’s images provide the best visual available documentation of Emily Dickinson’s community. Early images of the Dickinson houses, the streets, shops, and businesses the family knew intimately – all are found within this very important collection.

John L. Lovell Collection (ca. 1860s – ca. 1890s) can be seen in its entirety at the Jones Library. It includes negatives; 59 stereopticon views of Amherst; 40 cartes de visite; and 1200 prints. The collection includes the first surviving photos of Amherst. Subjects include Amherst and the Connecticut Valley, especially architecture, businesses, construction, etc. Biographical reviews in local newspapers of the day; advertisements for his business and other materials accompany the photographs. The cartes de visite are significant because of extensive collateral material in the manuscript collection.

Collection Items

Chi Psi lodge in Amherst
View of the Amherst College Chi Psi lodge on Northampton Road, built by the fraternity in 1885.

First Congregational Church in Amherst
View of the First Congregational Church from across Main Street.

Amherst College campus and Observatory
General campus view showing College Row and Lawrence Observatory.

Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house at Amherst College
Second Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house built in 1890.

Aerial view of Amherst College and South Pleasant Street
Looking north from Johnson Chapel tower toward center of town and showing College Hall, Morgan Library, and the Amherst College President's House, as well as the south end of the Town Common.

Morgan Library at Amherst College
View of Morgan Library on South Pleasant Street in Amherst. The Library was constructed in the years 1852-53 by Henry A. Sykes of Springfield who was the architect and the contractor. The building was dedicated November 22, 1853.

Campus pond and chapel at Mass Aggie
View of the Old Chapel at Massachusetts Agricultural College, which was designed by architect Stephen C. Earle of Worcester and constructed in the years 1884-86. View looking across the campus pond which was created in 1892.

North Pleasant Street in Amherst with trolley car
View of a trolley car traveling south on North Pleasant Street.

View east down Main Street in Amherst
View looking east down Main Street toward the First Congregational Church. There is a horse and wagon rolling down the street.

Walker Hall at Amherst College
This is the second incarnation of Walker Hall, built after the first building was gutted by fire in 1882. This building was torn down to clear the site for the construction of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.

South Pleasant Street in Amherst looking north
View looking north on South Pleasant Street. Merchants' Row is on the left, Town Common is on the right, and horses with carriages are parked near the shops. The flag pole can be seen at the edge of the Town Common.

Little Mountain at the Notch
View of trolley tracks winding through hills at the Notch with "Little Mountain" in the background.

Amherst Town Hall
This building was constructed on the site of the Palmer Block, which was destroyed by fire during the Blizzard of 1888. It was designed by Henry S. McKay of Boston. Construction was completed in November 1890. The clock is installed in the tower in…

View of Amherst from Johnson Chapel tower
The building seen in the foreground is the second incarnation of Walker Hall, which was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the first building in 1882. This building was torn down to clear the site for the construction of the Robert Frost Library at…

Stearns Church at Amherst College
Exterior view of the Amherst College church. Built in the 1870s, the church was razed in 1948 to make room for the Mead Art Gallery.
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