August 03, 1981 12:00 PM

edited by Alan B. Newman

Photography was young. The families of rural New England lined up with their children and animals and posed looking straight into the camera. Both these books profit from the charm of that directness, but the collaboration of Sugden and Kotker (Abrams, $37.50) is a sweeping historical document. A Maine farm girl, Hazel True, stands in her bare feet and little apron flinging corn to three speckled hens while a cat looks on. Stone-workers pause in their cutting of a rough granite tower at Barre. Vt. in a photograph of astonishing mystery and power Girls in bloomers and middy blouses do exercises at New Hampshire’s Camp Kehonka. Yale’s football team of 1895 stares—tough, torn and unsmiling. A sea of dark derbies that belong to Boston workers at a rally covers two pages. An unusually large number of these photographs are extraordinary—striking, fresh and beautifully reproduced. The pictures capture the essence of New England at the turn of the century Sugden, who found these more than 200 photographs, is a researcher for PEOPLE, Kotker is a former American Heritage editor Newman is a photographer; his book (Pantheon, $25) includes nearly as many photographs, and some are as striking, but because all were taken by the Howes brothers, early commercial photographers from Ashfield, Mass., their viewpoint is limited and the book’s smaller format makes mundane pictures seem even more mundane.

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