Historic New England---the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation---will offer access to its collection of Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographs online beginning on August 22, 2013.
Stebbins, a celebrated marine photographer, captured the quintessential New England pastimes of yachting and racing, as well as an extraordinary variety of marine vessels. This spectacular photographic collection consists of approximately 6,000 original prints. Dating from the early 1880s to c. 1922, the images depict recreational sailing vessels, steamships, ferries, and police boats, as well as boatyards and other dockside facilities. The images are a record of an important era in maritime history and document commercial and recreational maritime activities that would eventually fade away due to changes in transportation and technology. Architectural views are also part of the collection.
Born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Stebbins developed a love of ships at a young age, and made an ocean voyage to South America as a young man. He published several books on marine and naval topics, including The New Navy of the United States (1912), The Illustrated Coast Pilot, with Sailing Directions (1891), and The Yachtsman's Album (1896). Stebbins took roughly 25,000 photographs before his death in 1922.
The digitization of the Stebbins collection is an important step in Historic New England’s ongoing Collections Access Project, which launched in 2010. The Northeast Document Conservation Center and the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth participated in the effort.