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Notes from the Archives: On this day in 1931, Leonard Nimoy is born in Boston's West End

March 26, 2019

As a young person, Nimoy worked various jobs in the West End. He sold newspapers, worked at local theaters, and shined shoes. He also started his own photography business.

At the City Archives, we have records of Boston's businesses. A few years ago, one of our archivists was looking up a business certificate for another individual.  As she skimmed down the page, she saw the below entry for “Leonard Child Photographers.” She did a double take when she saw the name of the business owner, but sure enough, the entry said "Leonard Nimoy."  Leonard Nimoy registered this business on July 9, 1948, when he was about 17 years old.

Business certificate indexes, Collection 0301.001, Boston City Archives

We’re not sure how long Nimoy ran his child photography business, or how successful he was. But we do know that photography was a life-long interest of Nimoy’s. After achieving Star Trek fame, Nimoy returned to photography. In the 1970s, he studied photography at UCLA. He published a collection of his photographs in 2007 and in 2010, he exhibited photographs at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.  

Our business certificate records are probably not the first collection we'd recommend for cool history about Boston's celebrity residents — but they surprised us! This discovery goes to show that you never know what you might run across in the City Archives!