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October 30, 2021

’80s Student Life of a Massachusetts High School Through Amazing Black and White Photos

Olive Pierce (1925-2016) was a documentary photographer based in Massachusetts and Maine. The collection comprises several hundred black-and-white photographic prints taken by Pierce over her long career. The earliest images (1960s) feature landscapes and individuals in Maine, a subject Pierce returned to throughout her life. Other subjects include: political protests in Cambridge, Massachusetts and life in the Jefferson Park neighborhood in Cambridge during the 1970s; high school students in Cambridge (1980s); the lives of Iraqi children in war zones in 1999 and 2003, and protests in the U.S. against that war.

Student life in the 1980s taken by Olive Pierce

Also included are print publications featuring Pierce's photographs; publicity for exhibits and lectures; Pierce’s 1987 guide to teaching photography; a video on DVD and audio lecture about her work; some correspondence; unpublished book mock-ups and a memoir/diary; a self-published illustrated partial memoir (2014); approximately 2557 film negatives; and about 40 slides featuring images of her early life and family. Acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

This series from Cambridge Room at the Cambridge Public Library contains photographs that Olive Pierce took during her tenure as the photography teacher at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. For three years, she photographed students and the resulting work was published in No Easy Roses: A Look at the Lives of City Teenagers (1986).

Women in bathing suits wait outside a locker room

Two teenagers smoking against wall

Basketball game

Basketball game

Boy holding a small wooden construction above his head

Boy in Queen t-shirt in classroom

Boy painting a window frame

Candid view of two teenagers in a high school room with tables and chairs

Carpenter class

Classroom scene

Classroom scene

Classroom scene

Classroom scene

Classroom scene

Coaching addressing basketball team

Drum major

Group clowning for the camera

High school biology class

High school class

High school computer class

High school drafting class

High school girls' room

High school girls' softball

High school hallway

High school, first day, freshman year

Large group of students laughing

Man leaning on a boxing heavy bag

Portrait of Ho Bachtran

Portrait of teenage girl

Portrait of three students

Portrait of three teenagers

Portrait of three teenagers

School nurse examining a student

Six teenagers in a classroom

Student applying makeup in mirror

Student in boxing gloves

Student in the gym

Student mopping cafeteria kitchen

Student on field

Student with shop machine

Student working as food server

Students and teacher posing in mechanical room

Students at funeral

Students cheering in school gym

Students cheering

Students clowning in a school hallway

Students hanging out outside school

Students in school hallway

Students in school hallway

Students socializing in a bathroom

Students working in photo lab

Teacher addressing a student in a hallway

Teacher and student in classroom

Teacher and student in classroom

Teacher scolding a student in carpenter class

Teenage boy posing in front of ornate door

Three students in theater costumes

Three students standing outside photography room

Two basketball players in the locker room

Two drummers

Two students clowning by the hall lockers

Two students dissecting a frog

Two students in a stairwell

Two students laughing

Two students posing in school hallway

Two students sitting in a school office

Two students smiling

Two teenage girls hold up a third cheering teenage girl

Two teenagers in a makeshift gym

View into courtyard from above

(Photo © Olive Pierce)


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