Lisa Unger Baskin, who assembled this collection of photographs centered on women's history and culture, is a bibliophile, collector, and activist. Collection consists of 514 photographs and other graphic items in a variety of formats typical for the time, chiefly albumen, but also including gelatin silver, cased images, and mechanical prints; there are also small groups of true photographic postcards. Along with titles, dates, and content, data points may include biographies of photographers and subjects, studio addresses, and other notes. Roughly three-quarters of the images were produced by commercial women photographers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The great majority date from about 1860 to 1920, and the most common format is studio portraits of white men, women, children, and families. There are also many photographs of well-known women artists, entertainers, intellectuals, and activists of the time, as well as images of women in educational and a variety of work settings, on sports teams, posing with uniforms, guns, and tools, and enjoying leisure activities. Roughly 40 images are portraits of African Americans and other people of color or mixed race. Color images are chiefly limited to hand-tinted images and mechanical prints. Acquired as part of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection at Duke University.
Collection consists of 514 photographic items, almost all single black-and-white prints, in a variety of formats typical for the 19th and early 20th centuries: largely albumen, with some gelatin silver prints, a few tintypes, daguerreotypes, glass plates, and one cyanotype. There are also some mechanical prints such as Woodburytypes and half-tone prints, and groups of commercially produced postcards, collectible cards, and stereographs. Color images are chiefly limited to hand-tinted images and mechanical prints.
Roughly three-quarters of the images were taken by women photographers operating or managing studios in all regions of the United States, with a smaller number in England, Sweden, Canada, and a few other countries; some were well-known but the majority were small business operators in smaller cities and towns. Whenever possible, a brief photographer's biography is included with the image entry.
The majority of the images are studio portraits of mostly unidentified North American men, women, children, and families, with a slight focus on New England. Roughly 40 images are portraits of African American or mixed-race individuals young and old, with a few groups of people of color. There are several ethnographic images of northern African women and a few scenes from Southeast Asia.
In addition to portraiture, the collection offers images of women artists, authors, nurses, teachers, and students who appear in early images of graduation and sports teams. Women and girls in boarding house and hotel rooms, at home, on bicycles, at work in factories, large and small offices, mines, and hospitals, wearing uniforms, brandishing guns and tools, and enjoying leisure activities. One hand-sewn booklet of photographs appears to show scenes from a training school for African American women. Also present are many portraits of female actors, entertainers, and wealthy women. There are very few musicians. Of interest are several photographs of light-skinned enslaved children distributed as abolitionist propaganda.
The cataloger transcribed titles and dates when present and indicated the source location; in the absence of a title, the cataloger devised descriptive titles. The great majority of dates are approximate and are based on the format, biographies, geneaologies, and clothing styles. Much information was derived from history of photography websites and photographer indexes, especially the website Langdon's List of 19th & Early 20th Century Photographers.