Mary Ann Allard Booth

mary-allard-booth
Courtesy of the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

Mary Ann Allard Booth (1843–1922) was an American-born microscopist in the specialty’s purest sense. Her sole lifelong occupation was microscopy, a claim that few others of her time can make. Mary Ann Booth professionally prepared microscope slides from various subjects and continuously maintained a sales inventory for approximately a half-century. She worked as an editor for two monthly publications for science enthusiasts (The Observer & Practical Microscopy and the American Monthly Journal of Microscopy), published articles on microscopy, and traveled about the United States and Canada lecturing on photomicrography or displaying her slides to local microscopy associations. Mary Ann Booth was one of the few women elected as a fellow in the Royal Microscopical Society, the Royal Photographic Society, and as a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was honored with a Diploma for her entomological microscope slide mountings at the 1884–1885 New Orleans World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, and she received a Medal of Accomplishment recognizing her work for advancing microscopy at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. Hitchcock

      According to the 1916 edition of the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Mary Ann Booth suffered a lengthy illness that confined her to a wheelchair during her early life. No reference is findable describing the health problem from which she suffered, other than the vague term “chronic invalidism.” After thirty, she no longer used a wheelchair but did state in 1902 that she could only work on microscopy when her health permitted. According to a 1904 interview in the New York Tribune, Mary Ann Booth’s interest in natural history began during a trip to the seaside with her father at thirty-one. She recounts meeting another vacationer, a miss Mary Halliday, from Brooklyn, who took time to teach about her hobby, collecting seaweeds. The young lady identified the various species lying about the beach and explained how to mount and preserve them (Tribune 1904). Five years later, in 1877, Mary Ann Booth, now aged thirty-seven, purchased her first microscope. She did not mention the maker of the instrument. (Globe 1904) An article published years by a microscopical society to which Mary Ann Booth belonged listed the items placed on display for public viewing. The journal entry documents Booth as showing the slides she made by using a Griffith Club Microscope. The Griffith Club design enabled the instrument to be easily disassembled and came with a fitted traveling case. Pictures of her working with a microscope do not show her using a Griffith, so, unsurprisingly, she must have owned several instruments. The expertise Booth developed in microscopy became the doorway through which she passed into a world of study about nature’s tiniest creatures and earned her international attention.  

      Mary Ann Booth’s father, Samuel Colton Booth (1812–1895), a farmer turned geologist and mineralogist, supported his daughter’s scientific interests. Mary Ann Booth never married and continued to live with her father until he died at their family home at 32 Byers Street, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She also had an older step-brother, David, who continued working the family’s farm. Mary Ann photographed David’s house, and the original picture is part of this collection. 

     According to the Boston Sunday Globe, Samuel Booth had amassed an impressive collection of mineral specimens and Native American artifacts. After his death, Mary Ann Booth loaned her father’s collection to the Springfield City Literary (Library) Association for display in the Springfield Natural History Museum. The estate Samuel Booth passed to his daughter was sufficient for Mary to purchase a comfortable house in Springfield, Massachusetts. She lived in the Springfield home, with the help of a live-in female servant, until her death at seventy-nine. The building is under protection as a historical landmark at 60 Dartmouth Street in Springfield’s Historic District. Mary Ann Booth died in the home at the age of seventy-nine. A provision in her will transferred ownership of her father’s collection to the Springfield Museum and bequeathed her collection of photomicrographs that the museum still holds. (Boston 9/24/1922) (Stier 2020)

Early work with plague and fleas
Mary Ann Booth became known nationally for photomicrographs of fleas that she made from her mounted slides. They were included in a brochure by U.S. Surgeon General Rupert Blue (1868–1948) to educate the public about the bubonic plague. 

Fleas are the blood-sucking vectors that transmit the plague-causing bacteria, Yersinia pestis, between rodents and humans. Ground squirrels and rats serve as the main reservoirs for bubonic plague in the western United States. The disease caused one hundred nineteen deaths in San Francisco between 1900 and 1904 and returned in 1908, killing another seventy-eight of the city’s residents. In 1914. Rupert Blue published Mary Ann Booth’s flea pictures on flyers as part of an education campaign hoping better sanitation would prevent a return of bubonic plague to San Francisco. (Ogilvie 2000)  

The Mary Booth flea photograph displayed in this collection is from a San Francisco antiquities dealer. In a conversation with the dealer, they could not remember with certainty where they obtained the picture. They had a hunch that it was in a batch of postcards purchased at San Francisco’s Annual Vintage Paper Fair. The location of the postcard’s finding is of particular interest. The photomicrograph of a mouse flea is one of Mary Booth’s best-known pictures. The photograph was used by the United States Department of Health in San Francisco in 1914 to combat the bubonic plague’s resurgence. According to Mary Ann Booth in the Boston Globe, the image was on a flyer distributed throughout the city. She stated that Dr. Rupert Blue, U.S. Surgeon General, used it but did not mention how he became aware of her microscopic flea picture. Dr. Blue ran the federal government’s health program from rented facilities in San Francisco between 1900 until 1912. Unfortunately, there is neither an address nor a date on Mary Booth’s flea postcard. The postcard’s material gives a clue. On the postcard’s address side, a stamp box is made by using “Velox” trade-name. Small printed squares mark the stamp box’s four corners, a style Kodak used between 1907 and 1914. This date range is after the first two major San Francisco plague outbreaks.

The evolution of U.S. Postcards
In the United States, postcards became a popular method for sending short messages during the early nineteenth century. Mailing postcards saved the effort of using an envelope, but the U. S. Post-office charged the same as sealed mail. In 1873 the post office printed the first self-stamped postcard of a standardized size that could be purchased and mailed for a penny, half the price of one-ounce first-class mailing. The penny postcard was a government-only printed card until Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act of 1898. Following the Act’s passage, privately manufactured postcards, providing they matched the size of those printed by the government, could be mailed for a penny as well. In addition to matching dimensions, another restriction was that the mailing address had to be on the postcard’s side opposite the message carried by the card. The postcard format familiar today made its first appearance in 1901. It followed another change in postal regulations. Now, the recipient’s address and the sender’s message could be on the same side of the card, providing both are separated by an easily visible vertical bar. The new design was called the divided-back postcards. The upgraded style enabled a picture to fill one side of the postcard and a short message, along with the address, on the other.

Eastman Kodak encouraged public interest in making amateur photographic postcards. The company produced a folding roll film camera that made negatives three and a quarter by five and a half inches in size, the regulated post-office dimensions. They named it the Kodak Postcard camera. Having a camera make negatives precisely the right size meant that pictures could be contact-printed by simply placing the negative over a sheet of photographic paper and exposing it to light. No specialized equipment is needed –just a dark workplace and a few trays for holding print developing chemicals. 

In 1889 Eastman Kodak paid a million dollars for the exclusive rights to a newly developed photographic paper named Velox. The photosensitive paper was invented, produced, and marketed by Leo Baekeland (1863-1944). Velox paper yielded photographic prints having an excellent tonal range from the contrasty negatives typically produced by amateur photographers using uncontrolled lighting. Along with manufacturing rights, Eastman Kodak also took over Baekeland’s Napera Chemical Company in Rochester, NY. Following the sale, Baekeland reinvested the money to form another chemical lab in which he later created the material he is best known for, Bakelite. 

Eastman Kodak provided photographers with Velox photographic paper cut to official postcard dimensions. The size was also a perfect match for the negatives made by Kodak’s postcard-sized roll film. The side opposite Velox’s photosensitive coating came preprinted with the official postcard divided-back format. The upper right-hand corner carried a postage stamp box formed using the Velox name to frame its four sides. Contemporary collectors call postcards made from a photographic contact print a real picture postcard (RPPC). 

Booth’s opinion of her flea photomicrogaph
Mary Booth writes several comments on the postcard. She states that her Velox contact print of a flea shows excellent detail. The self-assessment is correct. The print reveals good tonal range, even illumination, and the insect’s delicate structures show remarkable sharpness. It is the best photomicrograph that could achieve using the materials of the time. In her comments on the card’s back, Mary Booth apologizes for placing a wider white border above the picture rather than its bottom, as is the traditional format. However, the borders are in the correct place if one rotates the card. The flea’s image is upside down because the white borders relate to the preprinted postcard design on its reversed side (stamp-box in the upper right corner). When Mary Booth sandwiched the negative with the Velox paper in a print frame, the flea was upside down. Mary Booth did not intend to use the print as a postcard, evident by her writing running across the postcard’s printed text/address division. Doing so renders it non-compliant with postal regulations. The unaddressed, unstamped postcard most likely was mailed in a larger envelope.  

Booth’s association with microscopy organizations           
Leland Ossian Howard (1857–1950) was chief of the Bureau of Entomology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to an article in the Illustrated World, Mary Ann Booth alleges Dr. Leland Howard requested she photograph and print every one of her microscope slides of parasites. She said the task required her “devoting all the time she could spare preparing for the National Museum” and that “when completed, the endeavor would be an album of parasite photographs running into the thousands.” (Dearden 1915) A computer search of the photographic image collection at the National Museum (now the Smithsonian Institute) Entomology Department does not list Mary Ann Booth’s work. 

     Among microscopists, Mary Ann Booth’s slide preparations of diatoms and pollens won her the highest respect. An indirect testimony to Booth’s diatom mounts’ quality is in the minutes of the 1890 annual meeting of the American Society of Microscopists in Detroit. During the gathering, Dr. Lyman Deck (1851–1916) set up a demonstration microscope for members to use for judging the resolving power of a newly designed Zeiss microscope objective. The criterion for assessing its acuity would be whether subtle striations on the frustule of the diatom Amphipleura pellucida were visible when viewing the diatom through the Zeiss lens. The diatom slide that Dr. Deck chose for testing optical acuity was one purchased from Mary Ann Booth. The following excerpt from the minutes expresses the thoughtful attention paid by microscopists to how their optical instruments performed and the knowledge of diatoms one needed to join in on the topic: 

Dr. Lyman Deck of Salamanca, NY, states that he could resolve the striations of Amphipleura mounted in balsam as easily as the beads on a dry mount of angulatum. Also, that is the striations of Amphipleura mounted in a medium having a refractive index higher than balsam were easier to see than those on Frustulia saxonica mounted in balsam.

     The Zeiss microscope lens test’s initial outcome was that two members claimed to see Amphipleura’s striations while six others stated that they could not. Later during the meeting, Jacob Cox — Civil War General, Governor of Ohio, and well-published diatomist — viewed the diatom through the Zeiss lens being assessed and stated that “the striations are visible and the question is thus resolved!” (Deck 1890)

Collecting mosquitoes on Long Island
In 1884 Mary Ann Booth took a carriage ride on the south shore of New York’s Long Island. In the letters section of the February 1885 issue of the American Monthly Microscopical Journal, she states that she found herself, along with the other occupants, “surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes so dense that they could not see the horses drawing the carriage.” With a touch of jocularity about not wanting to “provoke jealousy between New Jersey and Long Island,” Booth claims the latter as having the greater mosquito population. For Mary Ann Booth, the trip became a highly profitable mosquito collecting opportunity. In a letter she published in the American Monthly Microscopical Journal, she says: 

Imagine a traveler’s pastime of collecting live mosquitoes and filling a jar with them. Nevertheless, my efforts provided a fruitful harvest of enough mosquitoes to provide years of slide-making specimens.  

Most likely, mosquitoes collected by Booth during this trip are the same ones she used for the mounts exhibited in this collection. (Booth 1885)       

Recognition as a skillful microscope slide mounter
In the notes section of the American Monthly Microscopical Journal, the publication’s editor praises Mary Ann Booth’s artistry in how evenly she dispersed the mosquito scales on a slide mount he purchased from her by way of the mail. Along with his compliment came the question of how she did it because the readership would be interested in her technique. Booth replied with an interesting and cordial discussion about collecting mosquitoes but did not disclose her method. (Hitchcock 1884, Stevenson 2020) 

     Mary Ann Booth exhibited her mosquito slides at a soiree held in August of 1891 of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the American Society of Microscopists held at Columbian University, Washington DC. The editor of The Microscope: a Monthly attended the show and wrote the following commendation in his editorial the next month:

Acknowledgment—To Miss M. A. Booth, F. R. M. S., for the mounted wing of a mosquito she found in Massachusetts during the winter. The slide would charm anyone, but especially the ordinary visitor, the microscopical soiree, as the scales are in place and are beautiful. Also, a slide of Lepidocyrtus (springtail) scales, an important test object. It is unnecessary to say to those acquainted with Miss Booth’s work that the slide is perfect in every particular. (Stokes 1890)

Booth’s interactions with other scientists
At the same meeting, Lucien Howe (1848–1928) presented two papers — Floating Particles in the Eye: A Source of Error in Microscopic Observation and The Mechanical Stage Used as a Micrometre. Lucien Howe was an ophthalmologist remembered for his activism and lobbying work to have state laws passed, requiring the placement of silver nitrate drops into the eyes of newborns. Employing the treatment has practically eliminated ophthalmia neonatorum (conjunctivitis in newborns) as a cause of blindness in children. Howe was the founder and director of the Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He contributed many books from his private collection to seed the growth of a library for the nascent institution. 

     Visiting microscopists to the conference were offered the opportunity to take a sightseeing day trip down the Potomac River aboard the steam-powered ship Macalester. (Smiley 1891)

       Mary Ann Booth was one of the few women during the nineteenth century elected to membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). When she attended the association’s thirteenth annual meeting in 1890 in Brooklyn, the Herald-Tribune (New York) reported that some of the association’s members had the opportunity to take an excursion cruise around New York Harbor. The party boarded a ferry from Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, and sailed around the Statue of Liberty, to New Jersey, and then returned to Brooklyn. The Herald-Tribune listed the names of AAAS members taking the excursion. As “Miss M. A. Booth,” Booth’s name is deservedly nestled among the names of many well-credentialed American scientists of the time.

Booth’s support for social justice
According to an obituary published in the September 1922 issue of the Springfield Republican, Mary Ann Booth died of apoplexy (stroke) in her home’s backyard at the age of 83. She left only two close relatives — a nephew, James D. Booth of Springfield, and a niece, Elizabeth Booth of Amherst. Mary Ann Booth was an active member of Springfield’s Suffrage movement. A note of remembrance published in the organization’s New Jersey newsletter closed with the following paragraph by Elizabeth (Bessie) Perrault Titus (1871–1930). (Strum 2020)

        Her latest photographs were those of a family of busy little squirrels who made their home in a neighboring tree and who had learned to know and loved the good friend who cared for them so faithfully. Indeed, as was a fitting close for such a lover of nature her last Act on earth was the carrying of the evening meal to these little creatures; and in the great out-of-doors, at the close of a September day, surrounded by these appreciative friends, she passed into the great beyond.

Elizabeth (Bessie) Perrault Titus (1871—1930)
Secretary
New Jersey Woman’s Suffrage Association


 



Mary Booth Working With Her Photomicrography Apparatus
The photograph is from the article “Irregulars of Science” by John Dearden in the magazine Illustrated World. The picture appears in several other publications about Mary Booth. It is likely a self-portrait that she supplied the publisher upon request.
Deardon, William H. Illustrated World – Technical World Flatiron Building New York City, December 1915 pp. 450 – 455.
The photograph of moth eggs on an oak leaf is macrophotography using an extended bellows on a camera rather than a microscope.

Bubonic Plague in San Francisco

Chinamen Confined within the Chinese Quarter Cooking Their Meals.

A watercolor by William Allen Rogers (1854–1931). Published by Harper’s Weekly. Printed as a photogravure, 1900. Image size 11×15.5 inches.


Mouse Flea
Photomicrograph
Negative Contact Printed on Velox

c.1911
Mary Ann Booth

American Monthly Review of Reviews, Sept. 1900

A magazine advertisement for Velox photographic paper by the Nepera Chemical Company in 1900

The silhouette at the top of the page illustrates how to make a contact print using Velox in a print frame. Determining the right amount of time to expose Velox was not as easy as the ad makes it seem. The exposure time will change with the density of the negative, the distance from the oil lamp, and the height of the lamp’s wick. A lot of Velox winds up in a wastebasket. After Eastman Kodak acquired the Nepera Chemical Company, the new owners continued running the same ad for Velox for several years. The only change made was stating that Nepera Chemical was a division of Eastman Kodak.

Mouse Flea Leptopsylla musculi (female)

The flea was photographed using sub-stage illumination with partially crossed polarizing filters. The light-canceling effect of the two filters darkens the field of view except for where it passes through crystalline rods in the flea exoskeleton. The mineral, termed apatite, remains undissolved following the flea’s potassium hydroxide soak. Apatite has a crystalline molecular structure that depolarizes the light as it passes through. As a result, the crystalline structures appear glowing inside the flea’s exoskeleton. In a living flea, the structures provide support to the flea’s internal organs. Not all species of fleas have these structures. Mouse fleas spend most of their lives in rodent burrows and do not have eyes.

Flea of Mouse
A Microscope Slide by Mary Ann Booth
Specimen cleared and dry mounted 

Naming and classifying fleas
Mary Booth’s slide of a mouse flea is correctly identified by its common name. The taxonomic name is Leptopsylla musculi. Nevertheless, a picture she took of the slide was used as a stand in to illustrate the connection between rats, the fleas they carry, and the bubonic plague. The main agent of transmission during the San Francisco outbreaks was the rat flea, Ceratophyllus fasciatus. 

       A few years earlier, health officials observed bubonic plague spreading like wildfire through China’s provinces. They feared the same rate of contagion would happen in California. Luckily, the epidemic turned out to be much easier to control in San Francisco than it had been in China. The reason has to do with types of fleas and their abundance. The vector for bubonic in China was Xenopsylla cheopis, the Oriental flea. In San Francisco, the main vector was the rat flea, C. fasciatus. The Oriental flea was present in the city. It had been accidentally introduced through commerce from the East, but its population density remained far lower than that of the rat flea. The dominant plague vector in San Francisco was the less efficient C. fasciatus. The mouse flea, L. musculi, can transmit the plague bacteria but played a minor role. The flea mainly infests underground rodent burrows. One of L. Musculi’s adaptations to its subterranean lifestyle is easily visible in the photographs –mouse fleas have no eyes.

Obtained from: https://newspaperarchive.com/boston-sunday-post-apr-11-1920-p-46. (Original not in collection) 

The Photomicrography of Mary Booth
The Boston Sunday Post ran a weekly column featuring prominent women residents of New England. The April 1922 issue spotlighted the photomicrography of Mary Booth, including a brief biography of her life and accomplishments. The author of the article gave particular attention to the place a microscope and camera had in providing enjoyment to Booth’s life during the years she was wheelchair-bound.


An editorial in the 1887 edition of the American Monthly Microscopical Journal praising the quality of microscope slides and specimens provided by Miss M. A. Booth through her mail-order catalog.


The list of microscopists taking part in the Saturday afternoon excursion on the Potomac River. The cruise included a tour of George Washington’s home Mount Vernon. American Monthly Microscopy Journal, 1891.

 

 Wing of a Mosquito
Mary Ann Booth Dark Field Illumination, 100x

The mosquito’s wing is from a microscope slide by M. A. Booth, simply labeled as “Wing of a Mosquito.” The title does not refer to the particular species from which it had been collected. The slide held by this collection (pictured below) matches the vein and scale pattern of Booth’s mosquito wing photomicrograph published in the Boston Sunday Post article in 1915. Booth describes the wing picture in the Post as “having come from a “malaria mosquito.” Some mosquito species are identifiable, providing the geographic area of the insect’s capture is known by the pattern of light and dark scales on its wings. The wing photograph reproduced in the newspaper and the one mounted on the slide held by the collection is from the mosquito Anopheles punctipennes. The species is a confirmed carrier of Malaria in the North Eastern U. S. 

      Malaria sporadically broke out in the northeastern United States until its eradication during the 1930s – ten years after Mary Booth’s death. The primary vector for transmitting the disease in the northeast was A. quadrimaculatus, but A. punctipennis also a carrier of the pathogenic Plasmodium protozoan. Booth provided information about her Long Island mosquito-collecting adventure.  The specimen mounted on the slide and the one published in the Boston Sunday Post most likely were collected during that trip. A trip Mary Booth stated provided her with a lifetime supply.

Scales from a Mosquito Wing
Slide by Mary Ann Booth
The microscope slide prepared by Booth was discovered in a collection of slides owned by Jacob D. Cox


Scales of a Mosquito
Dry Mount, 250x Mary Ann Booth

The slide is labeled “Scales of Mosquito — dry.” The word “dry” indicates that the specimen is not embedded in a mounting medium. The balsam also serves as an adhesive to secure the coverslip to the slide. To attach the coverslip securely, Booth has used a thick, red lacquer, ringing around the edge of the coverslip (Fig. 19). The most common practice at the time for holding dry mounts together was to use a square coverslip and wrap the slide, the coverslip, and the specimen together with a glue-coated paper. A circular opening cut in the paper, on top of and below the specimen, allowed for viewing the specimen. Most professional microscope slide preparers used custom printed, decorative slide wrapping paper (Fig 20). There are no paper-wrapped slides by Mary Ann Booth in the collection. If she ever used the technique, such slides are rare. Booth’s mosquito scale slides raised the question in the American Monthly Microscopical Journal as to how she managed to arranged the tiny specimens so evenly.

CRYSTALS OF ANTIPYRININ
Viewed with Polarized Light
Mary Ann Booth
Low power, 5x, entire specimen area of slide is shown

Mary Ann Booth’s Slides of Crystals

Mary Booth appears to have worked to control the formation of crystal patterns on slides intended for sales. (Figs. 23, 24, 25). As a liquid begins to solidify its molecular motion slows and they attach to each other in immovable positions. Should the substance undergoing solidification be composed of molecules having areas of polarity, the molecules will position themselves as they are directed, either attraction or repulsion, by the charges. This results in a determined pattern of aligned molecules. As the crystals grow in size, as frost does on a widow, the angles of repeated attachment become visible as the geometric symmetry of the crystal.

During the late eighteen-hundreds, autopyrine was obtainable from apothecaries. Pharmacists frequently compounded it with aspirin assuming it had analgesic properties, as both are derived from the bark of willow trees. After further research determined the chemical to be medically ineffective, autopyrine was no longer used.. An interesting point is that Booth, or a past owner of the slide, attempted to amend the spelling of autipyrinin on the label. The chemical name for the molecule is dimethylamido phenylpyrazolon. Commercially, it can be found listed under the synonyms autipyrin, autipyrine, autopyrine, and pyrimidine. It was originally synthesized by a German company that identified it in their 1914 sales catalog as auto pyrine. (Science 1914)

Antipyrinin crystals
viewed with unpolarized light

Antipyrinin crystals
viewed with polarized light





Chemical Crystals of Salicin, Polarized Light
 Slide by Mary Ann Booth
50x

 

 CRYSTALS OF SALACIN (300X)
Viewed with Polarized Light  
Mary Ann Booth
The colors crystals show, while being viewed between a set of polarizing filters, will change as one of the two polarizers is rotated. The photograph is a magnified section of the same slide as shown in the preceding picture with the polarizing filters rotated to change angles creating a color shift in hues.  


THE TREES
Romeyn Hough (1857–1924)
The volume was originally in the personal book collection of Lucien Howe. Hough perfected a method of creating thin slices of wood using a veneer knife. The sections were thin enough to be transparent and often only one cell thick. Hough mounted the thinnest slices on microscope slides and marketed them to microscopists.


         THE STEAMSHIP CHARLES MACALESTER
Autochrome Postcard

The Americhrome series of postcards began in 1910. The tinted half-tone picture is labeled with red block lettering on the upper left. This feature identifies the company’s earliest printings.

The Steamship Charles Macalester served from 1890 to 1930. It was a steel-hulled side-wheeler having a maximum capacity of seventeen-hundred passengers. The Macalester ran for forty years between Washington DC and the home of George Washington, a national park in Mt. Vernon VA.


 


THE ARCH – LOOKING NORTH
Mary Ann Booth
Waterbury Lens
April 3, 1891

The view northward on Longview Avenue shows the home of David Booth. Samuel Booth built the house for his son in 1861. David was Mary Ann Booth’s older step-brother. According to the Longmeadow Historical Association, there is an inscription on the main beam in the attic that reads:
This house built July 1st, Sept. 17th, 1861 by S. C. Booth for his only son D. Booth age 24 who married Sept. 27th, 1861 S. S. Davidson age 24, Sterling Mass.
Mary Ann Booth’s handwritten note on the back of the photograph “The Arches.”

The photograph is a 3 ½x4 ½ inch gelatin/silver contact print made from a 4×5 inch glass negative and mounted on cardstock. Early prints of this type, made during the 1890s, usually are sepia-colored resembling earlier albumen prints.  The negative, which would have been a glass plate, was placed against a sheet of photosensitive paper. The two were clamped together by a hinged back with spring steel locking tabs.

Contact Printing Frame Used to hold photographic paper and a negative tightly together while being exposed to light.

 

Scovill Waterbury Tailgate View Camera

Scoville View Camera from the rear showing ground glass and folded camera bed.

A Camera of the Type Used by Mary Ann Booth for Capturing the photograph “The Arches” as she wrote on the back of the picture.

Scovill Waterbury Tailgate View Cameras were manufactured between 1886-1894. The front stanchion is immovable and holds the camera’s lens parallel to the camera bed. A hinged wooden frame swings down from the camera back, the tailgate, to form a supporting base for the rear section. It has to be lowered into place if the camera is in use.  The camera-back holds the ground glass plate used for focusing and framing the subject being photographed. Focusing requires adjusting the camera-back toward or away from the lens. When working in daylight, the photographer needed to drape a black cloth to cover his head and the ground glass to see the dim image on the ground glass. After composing and focusing the subject, the photographer would exchange the ground glass with a glass plate having one side coated with a photosensitive emulsion. This model does not have a shutter, so the exposure duration was controlled by removing and replacing a cap over the lens. 

Waterbury Lens by Scovill Manufacturing Co.
Waterbury Lens by Scovill Manufacturing Co.

The Scovill Manufacturing Company’s origin dates back to 1802 in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was a brass and copper foundry manufacturing brass buttons, hinges, and other small stamped metallic items. The company is self-proclaimed to be the first gilt button manufacturer in the United States. When the Daguerreotype photographic process became popular in North America, around 1850, it created a demand for silver-coated copper plates. Scovill Manufacturing quickly adapted machinery for making plates needed for Daguerreotype. The plates made by Scovill carry an identifying embossment on one corner, adding to their value to collectors.  The company continued making products for the photographic community. Scoville purchased American Optical Company and, after the turn of the century, Ansco. During the latter half of the nineteen hundreds, photography sales slowly declined.  Soon, the company’s original button making operation was the only manufacturing area that was still profitable. In 1997, Scoville changed its name to Scoville Fasteners. They moved from Waterbury, Connecticut to Clarksville, Georgia, and scaled back just making its original product – brass buttons. Available at https://www.company-histories.com/Scovill-Fasteners-Inc-Company-History.html

 

BRASS MILITARY UNIFORM BUTTONS
Scovill Manufacturing Company.


SCOVILL BRASS BUTTON SHOWING BACK-STRIKE

GLASSLIKE SKELETONS OF THE POLYCYSTINA

Polycystina is a biological family of planktonic marine protozoa that build protective enclosures out of silica. The specimens pictured were isolated from geological sedimentary deposits found on the island of Barbados on the Springfield Estate in 1849 by Dr. John Davy (1790–1868).* At the time, Dr. Davy’s Barbados material contained the most excellent examples of fossil polycystines that were available. After returning to England, the doctor sold samples of the sediments by mail order and also gifted samples to a few other microscopists. One recipient of the sediments was the botanical artist Priscilla Bury (1799–1872).  Examining the polycystines in Davy’s samples through a microscope moved her to create a series of drawings depicting their various forms. She had the illustrations printed and issued as a folio on a subscription-only basis. For printing, Bury’s drawings needed to be made into steel engravings. The task was undertaken by Robert Havell (1793–1878), who is well-known as being the principal engraver for John Audubon’s elephant portfolio, Birds of America. Probably less than one hundred pressings were issued. Several of Bury’s polycystine drawings were printed in the popular science magazine Hardwicke’s Science Gossip to illustrate an article she penned.

*The photograph of Booth’s Polycystina slide was awarded Image of Distinction in Nikon’s Small World international photomicrography competition for 2019. Mary Ann Allard Booth’s skills as a microscopist continue to be recognized nearly a century after her death.

Polycystina, Springfield Estate, Barbados
Slide by Mary Ann Booth

Mary Booth used Davy’s Barbados sedimentary materials for making the Polycystina slides she offered for sale. (McMillan 1968)**

**Brother of the famous chemist Sir Humphry Davy. Humphry Davy was the first to isolate the chemical elements potassium, sodium, calcium, barium, magnesium, and boron.


LA PORTAL MONUMENTALE

Exposition Universelle de 1900 (The entranceway to the Paris International Exposition of 1900) (A collotype postcard measuring 3.5 x 5.5 inches)

The picture of the monument was printed using a continuous tone collotype process invented in 1856 by Alphonse Poitevin. Collotype printing employs a glass plate to carry the ink that rarely remains usable for more than a few hundred pressings. The publisher of the card was Arthur Maury (1844 –1907) of Paris. The entranceway was designed by the French architect Rene Binet. He attributed the inspiration for the design to have seen drawings of microscopic marine plankton, particularly those belonging to the protozoan family Polycystina. Polycystines exhibit thousands of variations in design. Booth’s slide contains several different growth patterns. Among them, the organism on the upper left shows a close resemblance to Binet’s exposition entrance structure.

The botanical artist Priscilla Bury (1799–1872) developed a particular interest in drawing the microscopic plankton Polycystina. The above drawing was done for the magazine Hardwicke’s Science Gossip


 

A Salon Microscope Slide Arranged Diatoms

The two labels affixed to the slide are in the style of the London optician Charles Baker. The handwriting on the left-hand label matches with known samples of Thum’s. The correlation indicates that Baker supplied Thum with labels in Germany where he did his mounting and that the slides were made on request for resale through Baker’s business. It does not appear that Booth had a similar arrangement with Thum as no Booth/Thum hybrid labels have been found. The notations written on the right-hand side are settings for a microscope. It is most likely that the purchaser of the slide would have added these reminders. The decorative ringing adorning the slide is not decorating other slides of Thum’s making. Most likely, it was added to improve the visual appeal of the slide for sales or exhibition. The ringing is skillfully done and shows light crazing indicative of aging. It might have been added by Baker or one of his employees.


Display Inventory

Hanging Photomicrographs: Black metal frames, glass, black matting

Polycystina, 24×39”
Crystals of Salicin, Framed 24×39”
Crystals of salicin section,  24×39”
Autipyrinin,  11×14”
Wing of Mosquito,  24×39”
Scales of mosquito, 24×39
Arranged Diatoms, 24×39”
Mouse Flea, 24×39”

Hanging Descriptive Textual Material: (thin black frames, glass)
10 – black frame, 11×14″

Other Hanging Items: Black metal frames, white matting
Photomicrograph of a flea, by Mary Ann Booth, 8×10″
Photograph, The Arches, by Mary Booth, 8×10″
Portrait of Mary Booth 24×39”
Harper’s Weekly, Plague, 16×20″
Postcard, Le Exposition, 8×10”
Postcard, Charles McAllester, 8×10”

Display Items: (Requiring protected shelf space)
Cabinet Card Portrait of Jacob D. Cox, wire stand with mirror reflecting the writing on its back.
Shadbolt Ringing table
Microscope slides by Mary Ann Booth 1”x3” each held in an antique microscope slide-tray 8″x10″
Book. Osborne, Leslie Henry (1887) Editorial: bound volume  American Monthly Microscopical Journal, VII p 33
Book, Hough, Trees, showing Howe ownership stamp.
Book. Bound Volume, Hardwicke’s Science Gossip, open to Bury’s drawings
A handful of brass Scoville buttons
Scoville Waterbury view camera with its wooden carry case

 

THE TREES
Romeyn Hough (1857–1924)
The volume was originally in the personal book collection of Lucien Howe. Hough perfected a method of creating thin slices of wood using a veneer knife. The sections were thin enough to be transparent and often only one cell thick. Hough mounted the thinnest slices on microscope slides and marketed them to microscopists.


         THE STEAMSHIP CHARLES MACALESTER
Autochrome Postcard

The Americhrome series of postcards began in 1910. The tinted half-tone picture is labeled with red block lettering on the upper left. This feature identifies the company’s earliest printings.

The Steamship Charles Macalester served from 1890 to 1930. It was a steel-hulled side-wheeler having a maximum capacity of seventeen-hundred passengers. The Macalester ran for forty years between Washington DC and the home of George Washington, a national park in Mt. Vernon VA.


 


THE ARCH – LOOKING NORTH
Mary Ann Booth
Waterbury Lens
April 3, 1891

The view northward on Longview Avenue shows the home of David Booth. Samuel Booth built the house for his son in 1861. David was Mary Ann Booth’s older step-brother. According to the Longmeadow Historical Association, there is an inscription on the main beam in the attic that reads:
This house built July 1st, Sept. 17th, 1861 by S. C. Booth for his only son D. Booth age 24 who married Sept. 27th, 1861 S. S. Davidson age 24, Sterling Mass.
Mary Ann Booth’s handwritten note on the back of the photograph “The Arches.”

The photograph is a 3 ½x4 ½ inch gelatin/silver contact print made from a 4×5 inch glass negative and mounted on cardstock. Early prints of this type, made during the 1890s, usually are sepia-colored resembling earlier albumen prints.  The negative, which would have been a glass plate, was placed against a sheet of photosensitive paper. The two were clamped together by a hinged back with spring steel locking tabs.

Contact Printing Frame Used to hold photographic paper and a negative tightly together while being exposed to light.

 

Scovill Waterbury Tailgate View Camera

Scoville View Camera from the rear showing ground glass and folded camera bed.

A Camera of the Type Used by Mary Ann Booth for Capturing the photograph “The Arches” as she wrote on the back of the picture.

Scovill Waterbury Tailgate View Cameras were manufactured between 1886-1894. The front stanchion is immovable and holds the camera’s lens parallel to the camera bed. A hinged wooden frame swings down from the camera back, the tailgate, to form a supporting base for the rear section. It has to be lowered into place if the camera is in use.  The camera-back holds the ground glass plate used for focusing and framing the subject being photographed. Focusing requires adjusting the camera-back toward or away from the lens. When working in daylight, the photographer needed to drape a black cloth to cover his head and the ground glass to see the dim image on the ground glass. After composing and focusing the subject, the photographer would exchange the ground glass with a glass plate having one side coated with a photosensitive emulsion. This model does not have a shutter, so the exposure duration was controlled by removing and replacing a cap over the lens. 

Waterbury Lens by Scovill Manufacturing Co.
Waterbury Lens by Scovill Manufacturing Co.

The Scovill Manufacturing Company’s origin dates back to 1802 in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was a brass and copper foundry manufacturing brass buttons, hinges, and other small stamped metallic items. The company is self-proclaimed to be the first gilt button manufacturer in the United States. When the Daguerreotype photographic process became popular in North America, around 1850, it created a demand for silver-coated copper plates. Scovill Manufacturing quickly adapted machinery for making plates needed for Daguerreotype. The plates made by Scovill carry an identifying embossment on one corner, adding to their value to collectors.  The company continued making products for the photographic community. Scoville purchased American Optical Company and, after the turn of the century, Ansco. During the latter half of the nineteen hundreds, photography sales slowly declined.  Soon, the company’s original button making operation was the only manufacturing area that was still profitable. In 1997, Scoville changed its name to Scoville Fasteners. They moved from Waterbury, Connecticut to Clarksville, Georgia, and scaled back just making its original product – brass buttons. Available at https://www.company-histories.com/Scovill-Fasteners-Inc-Company-History.html

 

BRASS MILITARY UNIFORM BUTTONS
Scovill Manufacturing Company.


SCOVILL BRASS BUTTON SHOWING BACK-STRIKE

GLASSLIKE SKELETONS OF THE POLYCYSTINA

Polycystina is a biological family of planktonic marine protozoa that build protective enclosures out of silica. The specimens pictured were isolated from geological sedimentary deposits found on the island of Barbados on the Springfield Estate in 1849 by Dr. John Davy (1790–1868).* At the time, Dr. Davy’s Barbados material contained the most excellent examples of fossil polycystines that were available. After returning to England, the doctor sold samples of the sediments by mail order and also gifted samples to a few other microscopists. One recipient of the sediments was the botanical artist Priscilla Bury (1799–1872).  Examining the polycystines in Davy’s samples through a microscope moved her to create a series of drawings depicting their various forms. She had the illustrations printed and issued as a folio on a subscription-only basis. For printing, Bury’s drawings needed to be made into steel engravings. The task was undertaken by Robert Havell (1793–1878), who is well-known as being the principal engraver for John Audubon’s elephant portfolio, Birds of America. Probably less than one hundred pressings were issued. Several of Bury’s polycystine drawings were printed in the popular science magazine Hardwicke’s Science Gossip to illustrate an article she penned.

*The photograph of Booth’s Polycystina slide was awarded Image of Distinction in Nikon’s Small World international photomicrography competition for 2019. Mary Ann Allard Booth’s skills as a microscopist continue to be recognized nearly a century after her death.

Polycystina, Springfield Estate, Barbados
Slide by Mary Ann Booth

Mary Booth used Davy’s Barbados sedimentary materials for making the Polycystina slides she offered for sale. (McMillan 1968)**

**Brother of the famous chemist Sir Humphry Davy. Humphry Davy was the first to isolate the chemical elements potassium, sodium, calcium, barium, magnesium, and boron.


LA PORTAL MONUMENTALE

Exposition Universelle de 1900 (The entranceway to the Paris International Exposition of 1900) (A collotype postcard measuring 3.5 x 5.5 inches)

The picture of the monument was printed using a continuous tone collotype process invented in 1856 by Alphonse Poitevin. Collotype printing employs a glass plate to carry the ink that rarely remains usable for more than a few hundred pressings. The publisher of the card was Arthur Maury (1844 –1907) of Paris. The entranceway was designed by the French architect Rene Binet. He attributed the inspiration for the design to have seen drawings of microscopic marine plankton, particularly those belonging to the protozoan family Polycystina. Polycystines exhibit thousands of variations in design. Booth’s slide contains several different growth patterns. Among them, the organism on the upper left shows a close resemblance to Binet’s exposition entrance structure.

The botanical artist Priscilla Bury (1799–1872) developed a particular interest in drawing the microscopic plankton Polycystina. The above drawing was done for the magazine Hardwicke’s Science Gossip


 

A Salon Microscope Slide Arranged Diatoms

The two labels affixed to the slide are in the style of the London optician Charles Baker. The handwriting on the left-hand label matches with known samples of Thum’s. The correlation indicates that Baker supplied Thum with labels in Germany where he did his mounting and that the slides were made on request for resale through Baker’s business. It does not appear that Booth had a similar arrangement with Thum as no Booth/Thum hybrid labels have been found. The notations written on the right-hand side are settings for a microscope. It is most likely that the purchaser of the slide would have added these reminders. The decorative ringing adorning the slide is not decorating other slides of Thum’s making. Most likely, it was added to improve the visual appeal of the slide for sales or exhibition. The ringing is skillfully done and shows light crazing indicative of aging. It might have been added by Baker or one of his employees.


Display Inventory

Hanging Photomicrographs: Black metal frames, glass, black matting

Polycystina, 24×39”
Crystals of Salicin, Framed 24×39”
Crystals of salicin section,  24×39”
Autipyrinin,  11×14”
Wing of Mosquito,  24×39”
Scales of mosquito, 24×39
Arranged Diatoms, 24×39”
Mouse Flea, 24×39”

Hanging Descriptive Textual Material: (thin black frames, glass)
10 – black frame, 11×14″

Other Hanging Items: Black metal frames, white matting
Photomicrograph of a flea, by Mary Ann Booth, 8×10″
Photograph, The Arches, by Mary Booth, 8×10″
Portrait of Mary Booth 24×39”
Harper’s Weekly, Plague, 16×20″
Postcard, Le Exposition, 8×10”
Postcard, Charles McAllester, 8×10”

Display Items: (Requiring protected shelf space)
Cabinet Card Portrait of Jacob D. Cox, wire stand with mirror reflecting the writing on its back.
Shadbolt Ringing table
Microscope slides by Mary Ann Booth 1”x3” each held in an antique microscope slide-tray 8″x10″
Book. Osborne, Leslie Henry (1887) Editorial: bound volume  American Monthly Microscopical Journal, VII p 33
Book, Hough, Trees, showing Howe ownership stamp.
Book. Bound Volume, Hardwicke’s Science Gossip, open to Bury’s drawings
A handful of brass Scoville buttons
Scoville Waterbury view camera with its wooden carry case