NEWBURYPORT — The Museum of Old Newbury invites residents to take a peek at some of the city’s history tonight through “Highlights from the Christopher Snow Photograph Collection” with historian Ghlee Woodworth.

In summer 2014, the museum acquired the extensive collection of local antique dealer Christopher Snow. The collection includes thousands of photographs, glass plate negatives and photo albums documenting more than a century of Newbury and Newburyport history.

“We have since digitized approximately 1,500 images,” said Susan Edwards, the museum’s executive director.

A team of six museum volunteers sorted the images, which were “all mixed up in plastic bins,” she said. The team was able to sort them into categories and catalog the information. The process took about two years.

The collection was then sent to Digital Commonwealth, a Boston-based nonprofit that digitizes such collections and shares them in an online library.

“There were about 3,000 photographs in the collection,” Edwards said. That included postcards and glass plate negatives though, so the museum focused its efforts on mostly “cardboard photographs.”

The museum has about 18,000 photographs in its collection. In its pursuit of this collection, Edwards said, “Chris Snow spent decades amassing this photo archive of Newburyport and we felt that it would complement what we already had and really flesh out some things that weren’t represented in our collection.”

The museum anticipates a large crowd at the event. Edwards said Snow hosted his own program 15 to 20 years ago and more than 500 people attended. The event tonight takes place at the Firehouse Center for the Arts beginning at 7.

Anyone attending can expect to see early photos of downtown, Newburyport industries and shipbuilding, as well as a few images of city views taken by Henry Coit Perkins, a 19th century Newburyport doctor and photographer, according to Woodworth. 

“We’ve got about 65 images, which is just a drop in the bucket,” Woodworth said.

The local historian said she loves researching information in books, calling her interest a hobby, but a busy one. 

“I like to show what I’ve learned,” Woodworth said, adding that she’s made more than 25 presentations this year.

“Newburyport is an exception as far as the thousands of images we have of our community,” she said. “Not all communities have the thousands of images, or even the hundreds of images of their community — and that includes Boston.”

“So, we are very, very fortunate,” she said. “Several years ago, I started doing slideshows because I love the old images and I love sharing them with the community.”

As with all her presentations, Woodworth encourages the audience to participate in the conversation. She invites people to interject with questions and comments as she shares the history of each photograph.

To register for the free program, go to

Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

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