Guide to the Walter H. James Negatives, 1898-1924

Collection number: VC 133
Size: (8 boxes) (2.66 cu.ft.)

About the Photographers

>Walter H. James (1873-1965) married Ida Rachel Butterfield James (1875-1966) in 1899. Together with Ida's sister Lucy Ardena Butterfield (1871-1955) and Walter and Ida's children Ruth and Arthur, they traveled all around the White Mountains and NH/VT hiking, camping, and taking photographs. When not traveling, James worked at MIT as a professor of mechanical engineering. In an era when women, children, and families generally did not learn photography or hike in the mountains, the James and Butterfield families flouted convention and did both. Their legacy is a stunningly detailed record of remote places in a minimally-photographed time and place.

About the James Negatives

This collection consists of ca. 500 glass plate negatives dated 1898-1924 depicting the James and Butterfield families' home life, towns and landscapes and farm scenes around New Hampshire, and camping trips into the White Mountains and Mt. Monadnock. Many of the photographs were taken by Ida and Lucy rather than by Walter.

Many of the James/Butterfield family negatives have been published in two volumes which can be purchased from Earth Heart Publishing.

  • James, Walter H., Lucy Ardena Butterfield, and Ida Rachel Butterfield James. "Our Mountain Trips, Part 1: 1899-1908" Littleton, N.H.: Bondcliff Books, 2005.
  • James, Walter H., Lucy Ardena Butterfield, and Ida Rachel Butterfield James. "Our Mountain Trips, Part 2: 1909-1926" Littleton, N.H.: Bondcliff Books, 2007.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Folder Number], [Box Number], Walter H. James Negatives, 1898-1924, VC 133, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donated by Ben English Jr., 2014

MC 347: Photographs and manuscripts from Ruth Ida Butterfield James, wife of Walter James.

See various published works containing the photographs and writings of Walter and Ida James.

Separated Material

The original travel journals kept by James were not donated to the repository with the collection.

Collection Arrangement

Collection is in original order as received.

Collection Contents

Box 1
Home life and Ruth as a Baby, 1900-1929

76 negatives depict scenes in Portsmouth NH (Jones Ave.) and Waltham Mass. There are many images of snow storms, trees, flowers, the beach, Thanksgiving celebrations, and of a very young Ruth. Some MIT students are included as well. The bulk of the photos are from 1900-1915.

Box 2
Ruth, Butterfield Anniversary, Portsmouth Scenes, 1898-1918

88 negatives. Subjects include Ruth as a child, the 50th wedding anniversary of George Butterfield and Mary Ella Taydor held in Bunstable Mass. in 1917, scenes of Dunstable and the Butterfield farm, and trees and cats and town scenes in Portsmouth. Holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving are depicted. Negative No. 55 is cracked and should be handled with extreme care.

Box 3
Around Portsmouth and at Home, 1898-1918

85 negatives, mostly of locations around Portsmouth NH. Sagamore Creek and several farms and a garrison house next to it are included, as well as Foss Beach. The garrison is probably the Henry Beck Garrison, built in 1664 and pictured here in 1898. Farm scenes include barns, cattle, pigs, and farm-scapes. Many images are of Ruth and Arthur (especially Christmas 1911) with some other family members as well.

Box 4
Northen New Hampshire Camping, 1900-1924

84 negatives, mostly of locations and campsites within the White Mountains, including: Mt. Lane, Passaconawag, Wanalancet and Wanalancet Falls, Chocorua, and Albany Intervale. Also included are Pawtuckaway, Ossipee, Tamworth, Sagamore Creek (Portsmouth), and Pomfret V.T. Some images are of rail road posters and maps.

Box 5
Family, Wedding, Travel, 1898-1919

83 negatives of family and travel. WMF/IRJ's wedding photos (June 20 1899) and many photos of Ruth and Arthur make up about half the box. The rest include: Mt. Monadnock trip (1899 June), Milton NH Townhouse, Ossipee Valley and the house of Alden B. Moody, Intervale NH, Mt. Washington in 1906, Lake Wentworth (Wolfeboro NH), Sagamore Creek (Portsmouth NH), Purgatory Falls (Milton NH), and Mt. Paugus (near Conway NH).

Box 6
Hiking in White Mountains, 1916-1918 and Undated

19 glass negatives and several small nitrates. Many are from a box labeled "September Trip", although no more information is given. Locations included Mt. Chorocua (NH) and Albany Intervale (Albany, NH). Some are of Ruth and Arthur.

Box 7
Farms and Mountain Panaramas, 1909-1919

19 large negatives. Subjects include the Naltham family house and farm (no town given), Sagamore Creek (Portsmouth), Willow Tree Hill, Claybank Brook, Mt. Chorocua, Tom Mountain, Mt. Washington's Great Gulf, Carter Ridge, and views of the family parlor at Christmas.

Box 8
School and Family, 1910-1918

20 large negatives, including Ruth and Arthur's classes at school, the 50th wedding anniversary of George Butterfield and Mary Ella Taydor held in Bunstable Mass. in 1917, home scenes, and MIT. Also included are images of two poems and an oil painting. Two images are of the North Church in Portsmouth NH.