William Alfred Green Collection

The W.A. Green Collection comprises 4,114 half-plate glass negatives mostly dating from between 1905 and the late 1920s. Relating to a wide range of subject areas and interests, the collection is a major source of visual information about urban and rural life in the north of Ireland during the early 20th century. A meticulous and careful photographer with a keen appreciation of history, William Alfred Green (1870-1958) has been described as a man before his time in recognising the importance of things, which most people preferred to ignore as being ordinary, old-fashioned or of little consequence. Significant series of images of primitive transport, agriculture, folk customs, the Irish linen and other industries are all well represented and are unique in providing a visual record of traditional trades and practices long since passed and then in the process of dying out. Included can be found photographs showing pre-industrialised methods of linen production and workers employed in the textile mills, images of the Donegal home-spun industry and tram construction in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast alongside such local customs as the May-eve, the gathering and selling of Shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day and the unusual practices of Wedding Maskers. Green was also a life-long member of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club, to which he gave numerous talks and presentations, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. The collection reflects these interests and contains many photographs of an antiquarian, archaeological, geological and botanical nature. Finally, the collection also includes significant series of topographical photographs reflecting the interests of Green’s commercial clients. Produced mostly for postcards, book illustrations and advertisements, the collection provides a comprehensive assemblage of such images, mostly depicting towns and villages in Ulster, although other provinces are also represented. A handwritten index to the photographs, compiled by Green, is also available as part of the collection.


The W.A. Green Collection is a core source of visual information about urban and rural life in Ulster during the early 20th century. Although many of the photographs were taken for commercial purposes, and the subjects often carefully arranged, the collection provides an important visual chronicle of everyday life in the north of Ireland at this time, in particular, providing a window to a way of life practised by local communities in Ulster which altered little in the first three decades of the 20th century.

Physical characteristics

4114 half-plate glass negatives.

Description or Catalogue

The collection has been catalogued on to an in-house computerised database (MS Excel);


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Added by Ulster Folk and Transport Museum | Last updated on: 09 February 2018