Chansonetta, only sister of the Stanley twins, was the sixth child born into a family of 6 boys. Her name, in French, loosely means :”little song.” Chansonetta was born and educated in Kingfield. Netta, as she was known, grew up shy, retiring and headstrong.. She attended Western Maine Normal School (now UMF) and studied painting. Always striving for her best, she later became an excellent photographer.Charming and endearing to the old folks, her photos defined an era that was rapidly passing, as machines and cars became available and the old ways gave way to the new. When taking pictures of people, they were posed to strengthen the moral aspects of country living as it had always been. Netta mixed chemicals and developed her own photos in whatever pots, pans and darkened areas were nearby. Many of her glass plates were handpainting by Netta herself. Chansonetta married in 1887 and her husband died in 1898. After he passed away, her brothers would go on to financially support her for the rest of her life. By 1920, Chansonetta was completely deaf , so she would run a lantern slide presentation and her daughter Dorothy would give an oral narrative. Driving a series of old Fords, she and daughter Dorothy traveled in Maine, and Massachusetts, including the north shore, Nantucket and the other New England states.. She was also able to travel to South Carolina to capture life as it was and made at least one trip Europe to document old architecture. She was able to travel back to her beloved Kingfield in the fall to enjoy the foliage in 1936. She died in her sleep in March, 1937.
Jude Lamb discusses Chansonetta as well as other important Maine women in her “The forgotten women of Maine have finally found a voice” video.