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From The Bryant Room Archive

November/Decemeber 2000

The Photographic Legacy of William H. Pickering

By Myrna Sloam

An exploration of the Bryant Library’s photo collection will lead the researcher to value the contributions to Roslyn history made by photographer William H. Pickering and his family. From about 1900 until the mid 1920s, Mr. Pickering, a local businessman and self- taught photographer, captured friends, family and life in Roslyn, in numerous black & white photographs.

Immigrating from England, William Pickering and his wife Emma Hasell were married in 1891. After working on estates in the Roslyn area, in 1901-02 they moved into a house on East Broadway in Roslyn Village, where they worked hard, raised nine children and participated in a wide variety of community activities. The Pickering store, next to their home, was well known and sold newspapers, cigars, candy and stationary, as well as postcards and photographic supplies. In keeping with the growing accessibility and popularity of photography at the turn of the century, William Pickering established himself as a respected local photographer.

The contribution of local photographers to preserving the history of a community can not be ignored. Many of the photographs produced by Mr. Pickering depict street scenes and village events, such as parades on East Broadway and on Old Northern Blvd., and are the best visual record of what life was like in Roslyn in the early 20th century. Over time, these pictures have become some of the most recognized and cherished images of Roslyn.

Through the years, copies of Mr. Pickering’s photos were donated by family members, especially Annie Pickering Buck, to the library’s Local History Collection, where they are utilized by a wide variety of researchers and are preserved for future generations.

A few months ago I was contacted by author Wallace Kaufman, a grandson of William H. and Emma H. Pickering, who is gathering his family history. After a visit to the Bryant Room to examine our photo holdings, Mr. Kaufman offered to let the library copy some family photos from his mother, Emma. I was delighted at his offer and at the opportunity to add additional Pickering photographs to the collection.

With Mr. Kaufman’s permission, I am pleased to share a few of these photos with the entire community. I wish to thank Wallace Kaufman, his mother Emma Pickering Kaufman and all the Pickering family members who, through the years, have been so generous and so willing to share their photographs and their memories with us all.

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