The Arthur A. Shurcliff Collection of Glass Lantern Slides, ca. 1910-1930, consists of 1296 glass lantern slides.
Arthur A. Shurcliff (1870-1957) began his career in 1894 with an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the course of his studies he met the aging Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) with whom he developed a warm friendship and whose advice prompted him to undertake two years of graduate work in landscape architecture at Harvard College. Upon the completion of his graduate studies, in 1896, he was employed by Olmsted and, three years later, the pair co-founded the first four-year course in landscape architecture at Harvard College.
Upon Olmsted's death, in 1903, Shurcliff completed much of the work left outstanding and, in 1905, opened his own offices, carrying on Olmsted's work in the planning and development of Metropolitan Boston. He became an active member of the Metropolitan Planning Board, the Metropolitan District Commission, the Boston Parks Commission, and the Boston Planning Board. He was in charge of developing the landscaping for Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia; developed the plans for the Plymouth Rock Shrine, at Plymouth, Massachusetts; and was a consultant for the development of Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, a reconstructed Federalist period, New England town. In addition, he was a consultant to many private individuals, including Albert Cheney Wells, J.G. Deering, and Nelson Rockefeller.
Boston, Massachusetts, 28 June 1985 and April 2016
Arthur A. Shurcliff was an accomplished amateur photographer and built a collection of more than 1296 glass lantern slides. Many of those slides illustrate his work, chiefly in the Boston metropolitan area; some of them appear to have been made with design to record existing landscapes and parkways, both in North America and Europe; while others, recording scenes in the Near East, Asia, and the Western United States, appear to have been made for personal pleasure. Some slides are photographs of paintings, graphs, maps, charts, and plans illustrating various aspects of urban growth, such as population trends and automobile traffic statistics, while others contain aerial views of cities and parkways. Both the content and the original arrangement of the slides suggest that Shurcliff may have used them for illustrated lectures before various planning boards and special interest groups.
Most of the captions are adapted from labels affixed to each slide by Shurcliff. In instances where the labels are missing, or defective, the subject is supplied in square brackets.
The collection was presented to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1968 by members of the Shurcliff family as an adjunct to his personal and business papers.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Glass Lantern Slides ca. 1910-1930
Arthur A. Shurcliff Collection of Glass Lantern Slides, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.