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The Remarkable Photos of Leon Abdalian

  • JP Branch Library 30 South Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 (map)

The photographer Leon Hampartzoum Abdalian was born in 1884 in what was Cilician Armenia, in the Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey). He migrated with his family to the United States in April of 1896 and eventually settled in Jamaica Plain.

It is believed that he was largely self-taught as a photographer. For most of the time he was photographing (1913 into the 1960s) he also worked full-time as a conductor on the Boston Elevated Railroad . Leon Abdalian was primarily a large-format photographer. His photographs were published in the Globe, Boston Traveler and Herald newspapers. He had photographs published in National Geographic Magazine in March of 1920 as part of an article on business in Massachusetts.

Leon Abdalian retired as a conductor in 1951 but continued his career as a photographer into the 1960s almost to the year of his death in 1967. After his death, the Boston Public Library acquired approximately 500 of his negatives from his daughter, Lillian A. Clough. The remainder of his personal collection was given to the Boston Public Library in 2003, a generous gift from the Estate of Arnold P. and Lillian A. Clough.

Aaron Schmidt of the Boston Public Library’s Prints Department will talk about this remarkable resident of JP and his amazing photographs.

Free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.