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Readers’ Album

May 2023
1min read

The Americans

These Americans abroad stand in the same pre-World War I light that glows from a Sargent painting or illuminates the expatriate novels of Henry James or the English wanderer E. M. Forster. The sweep of the scene, its texture, its control, and its animation make it perhaps the most beautiful family snapshot that has come our way since we inaugurated “Readers’ Album” more than fifteen years ago. We are grateful to a subscriber, Mr. Chamberlain Ferry, of Lyme, Connecticut, for the opportunity to publish this 1912 photograph, taken, Mr. Ferry writes, “at an outdoor display of locally crafted lace on one of the Mediterranean islands, which island I don’t know, although any adult in our group could have named it. It may have been Madeira, since I have a copy of the passenger list showing our party of eight having sailed on the Canopic from Boston on February 5 (year not given). The gentleman in the background is my father, on sabbatical from college teaching and administration. The lady in the center foreground is my grandmother, whose daughter, my mother, took the picture with her trusty postcard-size Kodak. My grandmother is talking with a daughter, whose sister is close behind her, obscuring a lady who must, by elimination, be my wife’s grandmother. I don’t make out my sister, who was surely there, but perhaps too small to be seen behind one of the ladies’ umbrellas or exhibits.” Mr. Ferry points out that he is “the miserable young man in the straw hat, squatting on the base of a pillar, to the left. I don’t remember my thoughts of that moment but suspect that I was wishing that I was anywhere else.”

We continue to ask our readers to send unusual and unpublished old photographs to Carla Davidson at American Heritage, Forbes Building, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011. Please send a copy of any irreplaceable materials, include return postage, and do not mail glass negatives. We will pay fifty dollars for each one that is run.

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