Photographer Bill Brett Honored by Hingham Historical Society

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Photos by Egle Ruth

A Celebration of Bill Brett took place on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at the Hingham Heritage Museum in downtown Hingham. Brett published his sixth book, Boston Game Changers, in October and the Historical Society honored him with a special reception for his friends and family and Society supporters. Brett was interviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient David McCullough in a program billed as Hingham History Makers.  McCullough and Brett met years ago when Brett covered the regional celebrations surrounding the publication of McCullough's bestselling biography of John Adams for the Boston Globe. McCullough wrote the forward for Brett's 2014 book, Boston Irish.

McCullough started the conversation by sharing his belief that photography is critical to the understanding of history and how his own career writing history started with a photograph - the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. McCullough interviewed Brett about how he got his start in photography and about his long career as a photographer for the Boston Globe. Brett's lively stories about his experiences capturing images around the city and the characters he met along the way captivated the audience. Brett's latest book of photographs, with text by Carol Beggy, focuses on "the good people of Boston and the great things they do." Along with David McCullough, several other Hingham residents were profiled in the book, and a few joined in Sunday's celebration: Tom Hoffman, who with Tom Reilly supports the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge; Sheila Doyle and her daughter Kelley Doyle, whose late husband and father Dr. Gerry Doyle was profiled for his extraordinary patient care; and Sonja Kelly and Steve Tordone, who generously support numerous charitable endeavors such as Camp Harborview, the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children—and the Hingham Historical Society.  (The Kelly Family Foundation funded the Hingham Heritage Museum's Kelly Gallery, which houses a rotating collection of the Society's historically significant holdings and is visited annually by over 700 Hingham school children.) George Montilio, President of Montilio's Baking Company--also profiled in the book--attended the program with his wife Christine and generously provided sweets including individually wrapped sugar cookies with fondant of the book cover.

This week marks the 55th anniversary of the first appearance of a Brett photograph in the Boston Globe. McCullough posited that no other major city in the nation has been so fortunate to have one individual capture so much history. Brett's book is available for sale at the Hingham Heritage Museum Shop and at Buttonwood Books and Toys. Photography, video and audio support for the program was generously provided by Hingham residents, Egle Ruth, John Rice, Glenn Brown and Jim McGathey.

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