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February 9, 2022

Beautiful Daguerreotypes of Miss Sarah Hodges of Salem, circa 1850

Here is a trio of beautiful daguerreotypes by the esteemed Boston photography studio of Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes (1843-1863) featuring a lovely young woman identified only as ‘Miss Hodges of Salem’. Nothing is known today about Miss Hodges, but Southworth and Hawes made these costly whole-plate portraits of her for their studio collection, suggesting that she was sufficiently well-known – or sufficiently photogenic – to warrant displaying her likeness in the front-room public gallery.


“Miss Hodges is somewhat mysterious. I think ‘Miss Hodges of Salem’ was Sarah Ellen Hodges, born in 1823 to Joseph Hodges and his wife Elizabeth Shipman Hodges, both of old Salem families. There are a couple of other candidates, but Sarah is my best bet. If she is indeed our Miss Hodges, she never married, and lived with family members and then alone in a boarding house on Bridge Street in Salem from 1883 until her death in 1895. The extended Hodges family was old and prosperous, with a succession of Salem sea captains dating back to the seventeenth century, but Joseph Hodges seems to have been a bit of a black sheep and I think money might have been a problem.”

His family of seven, including Sarah and her four siblings, moved around every few years according to the Salem city directories: from one old family home to another on lower Essex Street.

“Sarah was the only one who didn’t marry or get out of Salem, and I have no insights into what she might have done with her life. She and her siblings inherited a mere half of a house among them after their mother’s death in 1883, which they quickly sold, and then she appears to have lived alone until her death. The daguerreotypes might have been one of the highlights of her life, if indeed they depict her.”








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