the month of February, in celebration of Black History Month, another
part of the Bullard collection will be on exhibit. Through some good
luck, retired teacher Frank Morrill had the opportunity to buy this
significant historical collection of a uniquely rare treasure trove of
glass plate negatives of African Americans/Native Americans
in Worcester. Over the past two years, other selections from the
collection were displayed. This year's virtual exhibit will display
many portraits that have never been exhibited in public before.
negatives are those of the late itinerant photographer William S.
Bullard, of Worcester and later North Brookfield, who, between 1894 and
1917, took a vast amount of images of the city's streetscapes,
businesses and local residents. Morrill, who has published several
books about Worcester and other local communities, purchased the
Bullard collection, approximately 5400 glass plates, in 2003 to use in
further research focused on Worcester streets and architecture. In 2013
his granddaughter, Hannah, accidently discovered a negative of a person
of color that was incorrectly filed and research began that led to this
rare historical treasure.
There are approximately 240
images of people of color, mostly living in the Beaver Brook area along
Park Avenue within the first four decades of having obtained their
freedom. Approximately 80 percent of the portraits were identified by
Bullard in his logbook, which is the key to the collection. Morrill and
Professor Janette Greenwood of Clark University have researched the
identified Bullard sitters since 2014 and have discovered a large
number of descendants, many of whom had never seen a photo of, or knew
the history of, their ancestors.