The Library has a large collection of glass negatives and lantern slides from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mostly taken by the prominent local antiquarian and amateur photographer Joseph James Phelps.
The collection appears to have been compiled around an informed interest in both local and world history with a proportion of Phelps’ own pictures together with purchased slide sets, selected as a series of lantern lectures.
It includes slides by famous 19th-century suppliers including Francis Frith, George Washington Wilson (G.W.W.) and the Mancunian J.T. Chapman, all originally acquired from about 1880 to the early 20th century and charting popular world travel sites of the period.
There are also some twenty boxes of lantern slides of specifically local history interest covering a range of subjects including canals, industrial development, architecture (old and new including a good amount of material on Chetham’s Library), family portraiture and some evocative early 20th-century street life and city views. Completing the collection are between 2000 and 3000 glass plate negatives in mostly half-plate or smaller formats.
The images shown here are taken from sets of slides purchased as lantern lectures and measure around 7.5 x 7.5 cm.