William Morgan: The Quaker Coast

  Photos (below) and commentary by WILLIAM MORGAN

It has been almost a decade since I published a book of photographs on the Cape Cod cottage. Since, then, I have been looking for another suitable topic.

My (more successful) photographer friends tell me no one is underwriting black and white photos taken with film. And my favorite publisher nixed the idea for a photographic study of what I call the Quaker Coast (the towns of Dartmouth and Westport in Massachusetts, and Little Compton, just over the border in Rhode Island), declaring  that there would be no market for such a book.

Yet there is something special – and not yet ruined – about those three towns. Fishing and agriculture still survive, if not actually thrive, there. And the mostly unspoiled landscape and the prevalence of a plain vernacular architecture, mostly wrapped in cedar shingles.

In lieu of the fantasy book, I offer the readers of New England Diary three images from the book proposal.


quaker2 quaker1



Addendum: Much of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket were also Quaker. I went to a few family memorial services in the Quaker meeting house in West Falmouth, on the Cape.

Many whalers were of Quaker background -- but that didn't make them gentle at all. Rather, many were tough and rapacious.  Many became very successful capitalists whose investments spanned the world.

-- Robert Whitcomb