Historic Photos of Beaver Brook, Worcester's Community of Color by William Bullard

William Bullard was one of the first African American photographers in Worcester, Massachusetts, and his photographs provide an important historical record of the African American community in the city during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He owned and operated a photography studio in Worcester, which he opened in the early 1890s and ran until his death in 1917.

Bullard’s photographs of the community of color in Beaver Brook, a neighborhood in Worcester, are particularly significant. Beaver Brook was a primarily African American and immigrant neighborhood, and Bullard’s images provide a rare and detailed look at the daily lives of the people who lived there. His photographs include formal portraits of individuals and families, as well as candid shots of people at work and at home. He also photographed the neighborhood itself, capturing images of the houses, streets, and businesses.

Bullard’s photographs provide a valuable historical record of the community of color in Worcester during this time period. They offer insight into the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the time, and provide a glimpse into the lives of African American and immigrant families. Bullard’s photographs also serve as an important reminder of the contributions of African American photographers to the field of photography and to the preservation of history.

#1 Thomas A. and Margaret Dillon Family. Virginia-born coachman Thomas A. Dillon and his wife, Margaret, a domestic servant and native of Newton, Massachusetts

#2 James J. and Jennie Bradley Johnson Family. James J. Johnson, of Nipmuc, Narragansett, and African American descent, and Jennie Bradley Johnson, a migrant from Charleston, South Carolina, pose with their daughters Jennie and May.

#4 Raymond Schuyler and his Children, Ethel, Stephen, Beatrice, and Dorothea.

#5 Mixed-Race Group, Including a Woman With a Guitar. This group may have been entertainers at an Old Home Days celebration, a popular event at the turn of the century held to commemorate the area’s rural past, 1906.

#6 Hattie, James Harold, and Clarence Ward. Hattie, Louis, Clarence, and James Harold Ward were the children of Mary Elizabeth Ward Wilson, a migrant from New Bern.

#7 Richard G. Brown. Richard G. Brown was born in Virginia and worked as a laborer in a Worcester broom factory.

#9 Eighteen Girls and Boys at Sunday School. These girls and boys are probably Sunday School students from Bethel AME Church, dressed in black and white for the communion service held once a month, a tradition that continues to this day. 1901.

#10 Louise and Martha Harra. Fondly remembered by many present-day residents of Worcester, “Weezy” and “Marty” were the children of Herbert and Mary E. Price Harra and resided for many years on Mason Street

#11 Betty and Willis Coles. Posing on the porch of their home on Park Avenue, these Virginia migrants arrived in Massachusetts in the 1890s.

#18 Susie Idella Morris and Harry Clinton Morris. Susie and Harry Morris were the children of barber Sandy Morris, a migrant from New Orleans, and Susie Arkless Morris, of Narragansett descent.

#19 Zenobia Clark. Claude and Zenobia Clark were the children of barber Joseph C. Clark, a migrant from South Carolina, and Laurie Harden Clark, born in Georgia, 1902.

#20 Ralph Mendis. Ralph Mendis was born in 1897 and is seen here at about age five. His mother, Frances, was part of the New Bern, North Carolina, migration to Worcester.

#23 Edward Perkins in His Garden. Camden migrant Edward Perkins poses in his lush garden of collard greens in the Beaver Brook neighborhood, demonstrating the literal transplantation of Southern culture to the North, 1902.

#24 Members of the Worcester Veterans Firemen’s Association.

#25 David T. Oswell with His Viola. David Oswell, born in Boston, emigrated from St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada, to Worcester in 1877.

#28 Green Hill during Training for the Wellington Rifles, 1905.

#29 Isaac (Ike) Perkins Wearing a Top Hat. Ike Perkins was a member of the Improved Benevolent Order of Elks of the World and posed for Bullard informal wear, worn by Elks for special ceremonies.

#30 Lon Edwards. Though Bullard lacked a professional photography studio, his logbook indicates payment for some of his neighborhood photographs.

#31 Thomas Doughton, Jr., Working on the Railroad, 1916.

#33 William Ward. Born in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1880, William Ward was part of an extended family that began migrating to Worcester soon after the Civil War.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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