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.
Processed and described by Meghan Lyon and Paula Jeannet, October 2020-November 2021.
Addition consisting of photographic items transferred from other Baskin collection groups, was processed and described by Paula Jeannet, November-December 2022.
Accessions described in this collection guide: 2015-0050.
This collection was processed in phases during the Covid-19 pandemic. The chief source for descriptive work was digital overhead camera images of the items, and in time, the items themselves. Photographer's names and subject names are transcribed as they appear on the photographs or in advertisements; thus, some of the women are identified with their husbands' first and last names.
Original titles and other information such as photographer's name and studio address - when present - have been transcribed as they appear; in the absence of a title, which was frequently the case, library staff devised descriptive titles. Dates have been transcribed as they appear, when present; the majority however were determined by library staff, are approximate; they are chiefly based on format, biographical details, and clothing styles. Most routine handwritten notes added by the seller or collector are not described.
Sources for biographical information are varied. Unless otherwise noted, the main source for photographers is the Langdon's List of 19th & Early 20th Century Photographers website; entries from this source contain abbreviations and non-standard language. The source for brief entries about well-known individuals is usually Wikipedia. Other sources include geneaological websites, history of photography sites, and digitized books such as county histories or city directories.
Identification of photographic formats or processes is typically based on date of production or characteristics observed during a brief assessment; as the 19th century flows into the 20th, there may be albumen formats identified as early gelatin silver and vice versa. There are instances of photomechanical processes such as Woodburytypes and halftone prints, chiefly found in stereocards and postcards.