Augustus Ephraim Alden was born to Rev. John Alden and Anna Marie (or Maria) Chamberlain Alden on February 22, 1837 in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. As his surname and birthplace suggest, he was a direct descendent of Pilgrims John and Priscilla Mullins Alden. His early childhood was spent in Shelburne Falls, where his father served for several years as the principal of Franklin Academy. At the age of 13, he lived with his parents, brother, and maternal grandmother in Westfield. Mr. Alden attended Middleborough's Peirce Academy in 1855, where he studied languages, and four years later married Ella Blake of Chicopee Falls. The couple had four children – daughters Mattie and Lillie and sons John and Edward.
By 1860, Mr. Alden was supporting his family as an artist and began dabbling in photography while living in his wife's hometown of Chicopee. When registering for the Civil War draft in 1863, he listed himself as an artist who worked in Northampton, where his parents lived at the time. It is believed he moved his family to Providence, Rhode Island the following year, where he opened the Arcade Gallery photographic studio. During this period, he also became a licensed photographer in Troy, New York. Ultimately, he obtained the exclusive patent rights for photographing Troy and the surrounding area, with a gallery located at the corner of Grand Division and Fourth Streets. He also operated a studio in the neighboring enclave of Saratoga Springs. Mr. Alden's specialty was portrait cartes des visite, and he also dabbled in the photo-crayon portrait technique developed by Napoleon Sarony. His illustrious lineage allowed Mr. Alden to photograph some of the most important people of the time, including President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and legendary New England poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. However, derived equal pleasure from photographing everyday townspeople as evidenced by his charming tintype of a little girl and her cherished doll. For the Aldens, photography was very much a family business with Mattie and Lillie assisting their father in the studio and Edward Alden becoming a successful photographer in his own right. Mr. Alden opened another Massachusetts studio in Springfield with his younger brother Adonirum Judson Alden at 310 Main Street before moving the operation to Boston. By 1900, Mr. Alden, who was by now a widower and his son Edward were living and working in Boston municipality of Hyde Park.
Always proud of his heritage, Mr. Alden authored a family history entitled, Pilgrim Alden: The Story of the Life of the First John Alden in America with the Interwoven Story of the Life and Doings of the Pilgrim Colony and Some Account of Later Aldens, which was published in Boston by James H. Earle in 1902, which included his photographs of the famed Plymouth Rock. Augustus Ephraim Alden died in 1914.
2015 CDV of Lincoln Funeral in Springfield, Illinois (URL: http://www.cowanauctions.com/itemImages/96114.jpg).
1998 Chicopee by Michele Plourde-Barker (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 92.
1870 The Philadelphia Photographer, Vol. VII (Philadelphia: Benerman & Wilson), p. 271.
1902 Pilgrim Alden: The Story of the Life of the First John Alden in America with the Interwoven Story of the Life and Doings of the Pilgrim Colony and Some Account of Later Aldens by Augustus Ephraim Alden (Boston: James H. Earle), pp. 15, 197.
2014 Stereoviews on Plain Orange Mounts (URL: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~dalbino/photos/porange.html).
1889 The Story of a Pilgrim Family by John Alden (Boston: James H. Earle), pp. 201, 447.
2014 Tintype: Girl with Izannah Walker Doll (URL: http://www.kathyschoemerantiques.com/offerings/offers_2013_07_tintype.html).
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