Early 20th century photography exhibit coming to David M. Hunt Library

The restoration crew worked meticulously to digitize and print the selection of early photographs depicting life in Falls Village and Canaan more than 100 years ago.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Early 20th century photography exhibit coming to David M. Hunt Library

FALLS VILLAGE — A unique exhibition of photographs opens at the David M. Hunt Library Saturday, March 16.

The show, “From the Great Falls to the Hilltops: The Mabel Hallaway Collection of Early 20th Century Photography,” is of interest to historians and to those interested in the history of photography.

The images are from a photo album and a box of glass slide and film negatives from the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society.

Garth Kobal, who wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalog, explains further:

“Looking through the photo album [in 2015], my eyes caught several photographs of women with bellows cameras and tripods, wearing black dresses in the full sun. All the photographs were taken outdoors — some in a clearing and others, most impressively, at the Great Falls.”

Three years later, Kobal was shown digital scans of images from glass slides, from roughly the same early 20th century period.

“There were photographs of a farm, two men on a porch with fiddle and banjo, a teacher and her students in front of Beebe Hill Schoolhouse, and a mesmerizing image of a man wearing a bowler hat, standing on a rock centered in front of the expanse of the Great Falls.”

A sample image from the exhibit that will be on display at David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village beginning March 16.Submitted

Now the images from the two sources have been combined to create this unique event.

On Feb. 23, a reporter visited Rika Laser’s Falls Village studio where the exhibition team — Kobal, Rika Laser, Sara Laser, and Sergei and Zoe Fedorjaczenko — was putting the final touches on the framed prints.

Most of the images are particularly sharp and clear, and reveal a great deal about life in Falls Village and the immediate area circa 1920.

One photo is of Catherine Woodin of Amesville, standing in front of a neatly stacked pile of wood in a sort of cape over skirt arrangement that looks very bulky by modern standards.

The catalog notes that “A February 1965 Lakeville Journal profile of her said, ‘It is no idle boast when Mrs. Woodin says that she is an expert wood chopper.’”

On Saturday, March 16, the official exhibition opening and reception at 4 p.m. will be preceded by a 3 p.m. presentation on glass slide photography with Daniel Karp of Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

And on Saturday, March 23, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., there will be a presentation on early 20th century fashion with Michele Majer of Cora Ginsburg LLC.

This article has been updated with the correct time of Michele Majer's presentation.

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