Saturday, 2:15 PM
(The Hatchet: Journal of Lizzie Borden Studies)
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
It may be a new image of Lizzie Borden: An angelic 8- or 9-year-old girl with a hint of baby fat still noticeable in her creamy white cheeks. In the black-and-white photograph, she seems proud of the feather in her straw hat and her wool coat with a satin lined collar.
That is far from the prevailing impression of Borden. Despite her acquittal at trial, she is commonly depicted as an ax-wielding spinster who got away with the murder of her father and stepmother in Fall River in 1892.
The photograph, which does not identify the girl, was found last month in the collection of the Swansea Historical Society by Stefani Koorey, publisher of ''The Hatchet: Journal of Lizzie Borden Studies."
“I’ve been staring at her face for about 20 years,” Koorey said yesterday from her home in Orlando, Fla. “I know those eyes.”
It would be the youngest known photograph of Borden. The discovery has caused a stir at the historical society, said president Carl Becker, who is hoping the flash of notoriety will help pay for a new heater. “It’s just a photo of a little girl to me,” Becker said.
For Borden enthusiasts, it's a new window into a 115-year-old crime.
“There’s an innocence in this photograph that I have not seen in other images of her,” Koorey said. “It’s nice to see someone -- whether she was guilty or not -- before the world caved in.”