|William Alfred Green Collection
|Web Link to this Entry
|4114 half-plate glass negatives
Creator(s): William Alfred Green
Administrative History ↴Born 10 Jan 1870, Newry, Co. Down, William Alfred Green was the only child of Thomas and Eliza Green. After completing his education at Friends’ School, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, he served as an apprentice under his uncle, the Belfast tea merchant and wholesaler, Forster Green. In 1895, he became a member of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club, which was to have a lifelong influence on him and out of which he gradually became involved in his chosen career as a professional photographer. It is unclear when Green officially set up in business, but as the majority of his photographs date increasingly from 1900, it is safe to presume his career commenced around this time. He specialised in landscape and scientific photography, styling himself as a "Legal and Scientific Photographer" from at least 1920. His work ranged from lantern slides for educational purposes to photographs for postcards, advertisements and book illustrations, but was also particularly interested in recording agricultural practices and folk customs. He is most notably famed for his studies of the Toome farmers of Co. Antrim, recording a unique and valuable series of the traditional hand methods used in the Irish linen trade. Green married Mary C. Shemald of Portadown in 1903 with whom he had one son, Edmund (1903-1921). In 1910, he acquired a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. d. 25 Mar 1958, Massereene Hospital, Co. Antrim. Buried Friends’ Burying Ground, Balmoral, Belfast. Source: "William Alfred Green FRSAI: The man and his photographs," T.K. Anderson in Ulster Local Studies, Volume 13, No. 2, Winter 1991. A meticulous and careful photographer with a keen appreciation of history, William Alfred Green (1870-1958) has been described as a man before his time in recognising the importance of things, which most people preferred to ignore as being ordinary, old-fashioned or of little consequence. Green was a life-long member of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club, to which he gave numerous talks and presentations, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. The collection reflects these interests and contains many photographs of an antiquarian, archaeological, geological and botanical nature.
Archival History ↴Unknown
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴Unknown
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: William Alfred Green ↴
The W.A. Green Collection is a core source of visual information about urban and rural life in Ulster during the early 20th century. Although many of the photographs were taken for commercial purposes, and the subjects often carefully arranged, the collection provides an important visual chronicle of everyday life in the north of Ireland at this time, in particular, providing a window to a way of life practised by local communities in Ulster which altered little in the first three decades of the 20th century.
The collection comprises 4,114 half-plate glass negatives mostly dating from between 1905 and the late 1920s. Relating to a wide range of subject areas and interests, the collection is a major source of visual information about urban and rural life in the north of Ireland during the early 20th century.
Significant series of images of primitive transport, agriculture, folk customs, the Irish linen and other industries are all well represented and are unique in providing a visual record of traditional trades and practices long since passed and then in the process of dying out. Included can be found photographs showing pre-industrialised methods of linen production and workers employed in the textile mills, images of the Donegal home-spun industry and tram construction in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast alongside such local customs as the May-eve, the gathering and selling of Shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day and the unusual practices of Wedding Maskers.
The collection also includes significant series of topographical photographs reflecting the interests of Green’s commercial clients. Produced mostly for postcards, book illustrations and advertisements, the collection provides a comprehensive assemblage of such images, mostly depicting towns and villages in Ulster, although other provinces are also represented.
Appraisal Destruction ↴Permanent Retention
Accruals ↴No further accruals expected
A handwritten index to the photographs, compiled by Green, is available as part of the collection. The collection has been catalogued on to an in-house computerised database (MS Excel)
Conditions of Access & Use
|Proof prints of the photographs can be consulted in the Library of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum. Picture research can be conducted for remote clients and reproduction prints ordered on request. Reproduction fees are charged for publication, broadcasting etc.
|Conditions Governing Reproduction
|Copyright National Museums NI
|4114 half-plate glass negatives
|Material Language Script
|Characteristics Tech Req
|Consists of glass negatives, original prints, lantern slides and published series of views
|A handwritten index to the photographs, compiled by Green, is available as part of the collection. The collection has been catalogued on to an in-house computerised database (MS Excel) Archive Web Link →
There are no Allied Materials
Descriptive Control Area
|National Museums Northern Ireland
|ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.