Publishing the history & culture 

of Southeastern New England • Since 1981

The Spinner Photographic Collection


To inquire about purchasing photographic prints please call 508-994-4564

See our Photographs on Digital Commonwealth

See limited selection of our Database Under Construction

Preserving History

The Spinner Photographic Archive is an important community resource---accessible and affordable to the general public. As we seek and obtain images of industry, recreation and events, we build a scrapbook of daily life and familiar places. Just as Spinner books celebrate people and culture, our images present an inexhaustible exposé of architecture, art, hard work, leisure, celebration, innovation, tragedy and more. 

Stocked with images relating to southeastern New England–primarily New Bedford, Fall River, Dartmouth, Fairhaven and the surrounding communities–there is also a fine representation of Cape Cod and the Islands, Plymouth County, Rhode Island, Boston, Cape Ann and beyond. In addition, there are thousands of historical images of people, places and events from around the world.

Over One Million Images Now Available

The Spinner Archive consists of more than one million photographs—historical and contemporary—depicts 150 years of life in the southeastern Massachusetts region.

Our collection, which expands almost daily, includes rare vintage photographs made from original glass-plate negatives, photographic prints, lantern slides and artwork, as well as contemporary color transparencies and digital images. 

There are maritime scenes and wooden ships, whaling voyages and fishing trips, draggers, steamships and wharf scenes. The industrial workplace is well represented with photos of cotton and silk mills, shoe factories, tool-makers and more. There are blacksmiths, coopers, shoemakers, storekeepers, dairy farms, cranberry bogs, apple orchards and vineyards. There is architecture, urban renewal, transportation, celebration and disaster; street scenes, military scenes, parks, beaches, rivers and bays; famous people, infamous people, unknown people and much more. The images represent the passing of time, people, places and events.

News / Events 

Can you think of watershed events? The ’38 Hurricane? The Argo Merchant spill? The Strike of ’28? The Granite Block fire? Sacco and Vanzetti? The Brinks Robbery? The Arctic Fleet Disaster? Armistice Day? Coconut Grove? The day you were born? We probably have it.


Southeastern New England was the whaling Mecca of the world. Luckily, there is a vast photographic record of the hundreds of wooden ships and courageous crews that embarked on dangerous voyages to bring light (through whale oil) to the world.


Probably America’s oldest industry, the New England fishing industry has helped sustain our country for nearly 400 years. The collection contains thousands of photos, at sea and dockside, that depict its fearsome majesty and quiet beauty.


For decades, southeastern New England was the world center for textile manufacturing–witnessing unrelenting growth and prosperity. Today, few remnants remain of this glorious age–except for thousands of powerful images that bear witness.


Graced with some of the country’s most splendid architecture, our region abounds with original examples of colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic, Queen Anne, Cape Cod, 19th Century, and much more.


Unique to the Collection are the many photos depicting streets and buildings of southeastern New England. While trolleys, autos and people fill the streets with vitality of the times, the pictures fill our hearts with dreams of yesteryear.

Rural Scenes 

Behold the rustic beauty of our rural areas. Craggy shores, lazy rivers, dense woodlands, old grist mills and dreamy backroads are signature images of New England. Let your walls tell the story.


Since Gosnold’s arrival in 1602 southeastern New England has been a gateway to the New World, with millions of immigrants having made passage. This rich collection of images documents their legacy.


The Archive contains hundreds of unique portraits of famous people such as Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe, The Rolling Stones, Amelia Earhardt, Charlie Chaplin, Mother Theresa, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, and Queen Elizabeth.

Photograph from the collection of the New Bedford Fire Museum

Photograph from the collection of the Milicent Library