The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to announce the generous donation of one million photographs from the Gloucester Daily Times.

July 1, 2021

Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives receives generous donation of one million images from the Gloucester Daily Times

Cape Ann residents viewing the destruction left by the Perfect Storm, November 1, 1991. Photograph by Gloucester Daily Times photographer Cristin Bradley. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA.

The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to announce a generous donation from the North of Boston Media Group of one million photographs from the vast and historically significant archives of the Gloucester Daily Times. This important collection of images of Cape Ann events, people, and historic moments dates from 1980 to 2005 and will be housed at the Museum's Library & Archives. 

“This is an extraordinary repository of photography capturing Cape Ann’s illustrious history, and it shows how irreplaceable local journalism is in chronicling our communities,” said Oliver Barker, the Museum’s Director. “We cannot thank the Gloucester Daily Times and North of Boston Media Group enough for recognizing the historic value of their photography over the years and understanding why it is so vital to protect and preserve these images for years to come.”

The Gloucester Daily Times was founded in 1888 and has been documenting the region’s activities ever since. An award-winning newspaper, the photographers who captured these images are well known and produced exceptional work. Represented in the collection are photographs by Amy Sweeney, Cristin Gisler Bradley, Paul Bilodeau, Josh Reynolds, Mike Dean, and Bart Piscitello. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to permanently archive our photo collection from the Gloucester Daily Times at the Cape Ann Museum,” said Times editor David Olson. “Local journalism captures the important moments of communities, and we’re glad to ensure access to these images – some award-winning, some historic, some simply relatable – for future generations on Cape Ann. It’s also important for Times journalists to know their work matters as a chronicle of history. Everyone benefits from this arrangement – the Times, the Museum and our community.”

The collection primarily consists of photographic negatives on 35mm film and digital images on compact disks and memory cards. Also included are photographic prints from earlier decades as well as the vast newspaper clipping “morgue” which gives a unique insight into 20th century newspaper journalism. As is the case with all photograph collections in the Library & Archives’ care, the material will be fully accessible and available to researchers. The Times will retain its rights to the images.

Digitizing select images has already begun, and the Museum will be integrating many of these into upcoming exhibits and through future issues of its online periodical, CAM Connects. Most notably, in 2023 the Museum plans to host a large scale exhibition at the Janet & William Ellery James Center at the Cape Ann Museum Green that will encompass three decades of Gloucester Daily Times photojournalism. For now, the collection is being stored, preserved, and cataloged at the climate-controlled James Center.

This collection holds many familiar images—from the full front-page shots of historic moments on Cape Ann to picturesque feature photos to game-winning moments by young athletes. Equally if not more exciting, this collection holds all the images not chosen for print—the candid shots between poses, every float in a parade, the storms, the sea, the festivals, and so many members of the community. CAM Librarian & Archivist Trenton Carls, cites the incredible reach of the collection as its most exciting aspect, “Many photographic collections that come to the Museum are usually very specific in scope, covering a certain event, by a specific photographer, or a certain time period. With this expansive collection, the Museum will be able to share the stories of an entire generation of people and almost three decades worth of events and moments from our community.” For further perspective, the question that former Times’ editor Peter Watson asked during his 2009 presentation at CAM on the exhibit of Charlie Lowe’s GDT Photos comes to mind: “How many people here had their picture taken by Charlie Lowe?” —If you couldn’t answer yes to that question then, this new collection probably has you covered.

To get a sense of the size of this gift, the images below show just a portion of the collection, now stored at the James Center at the Cape Ann Museum Green. Having these materials in this state-of-the-art climate-controlled storage space is invaluable to preserving this fragile material. Each Kodak box presently houses around 10,000 negative film strips, with each strip containing approximately five or six images.

The CAM Librarian & Archivist is now planning the organization and cataloging of the entire collection which will also involve the digitization of each item in the coming years. Before any of this work was able to commence, everything had to be packed and moved, and the Museum would like to extend its gratitude to a small but mighty Docent group comprised of Leslie Beatty, Christina Doyle, and Paul Romary, who were instrumental in this move process at the GDT offices, specifically the clipping morgue (seen below). 

A special thanks is also offered to current GDT staff photographer Paul Bilodeau, who has worked with CAM staff throughout the course of inventorying the donation, digging through boxes and dark corners, and most incredibly of all, uncovering six Kodak film boxes that held many missing Charlie Lowe photographs from 1973-1981 that would have been part of the 2004 donation of images to the Museum. As previous Photo Archivist Fred Buck mentioned in his “Processors Note,” the original donation of Lowe’s photographs contained many gaps in coverage, specifically the first half of 1974 and 1980. Those gaps have now been filled thanks to Paul’s sharp eyes and dedication to preserving the Times photo collection.