Improprieties: A. H. Boyd and the Parasitic Attribution

The root of the notion that A.H. Boyd had any relationship with photography arose from this children’s story forwarded to the Crowther Collection at the State Library of Tasmania in 1942 by its author, Edith Hall. It was NEVER published, and exists only as a typed story, called “The Young Explorer.” Edith Hall claimed in an accompanying letter, dated 1942 and addressed to Dr Crowther that a man she calls the “Chief” in the story was her uncle A.H. Boyd, and that he was “always on the lookout for sitters”. Hopeful Chief! The imaginative Edith and her description of a room where the child protagonist was photographed (and rewarded for it) hardly accords with a set-up for police photography. The photographing of prisoners IS NOT mentioned in either the story or the letter by Edith Hall. In the context of the whole story, only three pages in length, the reference to photography is just another in a long list of imaginative fictions (many about clothes and servants) intended to give the child reader a “taste” of old Port Arthur, when both the author and her readers by 1942 were at a considerable remove in time. Boyd is not mentioned by name in the story, yet Reeder 1995 (after Long, 1995) and Clark (2010) actually cite this piece of fiction as if it contains statements of factual information. A.H. Boyd has never been documented in newspapers or validated in any government record of the day as either an amateur or official photographer. … More Improprieties: A. H. Boyd and the Parasitic Attribution

Margaret Glover and the fabrication of photohistory

The true origins of the photographic misattribution to non-photographer and Port Arthur official A. H. Boyd of Thomas J. Nevin’s police mugshots of Tasmanian prisoners taken in the 1870s-1880s lies with a reference to the art historian Margaret Glover’s article “Some Port Arthur Experiments” (1979) by Chris Long and/or Warwick Reeder (1995).

In 1979, Margaret Glover published an article about Port Arthur titled Some Port Arthur Experiments (In: T.H.R.A. Papers and Proceedings, vol. 26 no. 4, Dec. 1979, pp. 132-143). The article deals with plants and animals and steam engines and the tenure of Commandant James Boyd (during the years 1853-1871). No mention is made of his successor Commandant A. H. Boyd, no mention is made of prison photography, and no mention is made in this article of A. H. Boyd’s niece E.M. Hall, nor is her children’s story, “The Young Explorer” (1931/1942). Yet this same article by Glover and this same children’s story by E.M. Hall have been cited since the 1980s by Chris Long as evidence that A.H. Boyd not only had his own photographic studio but photographed prisoners at Port Arthur in 1873 or was it 1874? Those who believe this “belief” cannot quite settle on the date – because it did not happen! … More Margaret Glover and the fabrication of photohistory

The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

The Queen Victoria and Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, seemed so intent on abrogating the name of Thomas J. Nevin as photographer from any association with its holdings of the “Port Arthur convicts” photographs which were exhibited there in 1977 as Nevin’s work that in a letter to a Nevin descendant dated 17th November 2005, the technical officer showed considerable confusion and made contradictory and incorrect statements. … More The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd