Bristol historian's series on photographer Moulthrop continues Wednesday

Published on Monday, 21 October 2019 20:43


BRISTOL - Historian Tom Dickau’s presentation series dedicated to the photography of George Moulthrop will continue Wednesday, Oct. 23, with restored images of the local school system from the 1880s through the 1950s.

The program is the third in Dickau’s series dedicated to the work of the prolific photographer, “George E. Moulthrop, Amateur Photographer & Bristol Visual Historian,” and will be held at 6 p.m. at the F.N. Manross Memorial Library at 260 Central St.

It will feature between 400 and 500 restored photographs, which depict old school buildings, former single-room schoolhouses, active classrooms and famous educators of a bygone era such as John J. Jennings, for whom the former Jennings School was named in 1920. As with past installments in this series, Moulthrop’s step-granddaughters, Linda McMaster and Beverley Huntley, will attend.

Dickau said the program will focus on how Bristol’s industrial growth prompted an expansion in education.

“As the population increased, the need for schools increased,” said Dickau. “Industry was spread throughout the city rather than focused in one specific area. And, there were not a lot of forms of transportation right away. People started to develop systems in their own region.”

Dickau said Bristol used to have 13 districts, which each functioned autonomously. Each had its own school board responsible for developing curriculum and collecting taxes related to education.

“They were like their own miniature Boards of Education,” said Dickau. “This system continued from 1754 to 1942 and Bristol was the last city in the state to consolidate them.”

A building which, to this day, stands next to the Bristol Historical Society was used by “school visitors.” These people would come to schools, talk to teachers and suggest books and curriculum. However, a district was not obliged to take their advice.

“The head of the school visitors was known as the ‘Acting School Visitor’ and he functioned like a superintendent,” said Dickau.

Dickau said Jennings was a principal in the former District 1 for only two years, but he was “one of the most important people to hit the school system” due to his focus on enhancing the curriculum. Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia when he was only 45 years old.

Moulthrop took photos all over Bristol from 1886 to 1964, when he died at 94. His collection of slides and negatives were inherited by Blanche McMaster, an educator in Bristol. The collection was then given to Dickau for the purpose of restoring and preserving them. He has received assistance in doing so from Cortlandt Hull, owner of the Witch’s Dungeon Classic Movie Museum.

People are asked to register in advance for this program. To register, call 860-584-7790 or visit

Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Bristol Public Library.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, Bristol on Monday, 21 October 2019 20:43. Updated: Monday, 21 October 2019 20:46.