Tuesday Tips – Researching Photographers Working in the South, part 3

Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.

South, John M Danville, VA cdv tintbow

John M. South, Danville, VA, hand-tinted carte-de-visite of an unidentified young woman, ca.1872; author’s collection

click any image to enlarge

Today I want to share some research sources for the South Atlantic states of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. Many photographers who came to the lower South either came from or worked in these states in the upper South. The sources discussed below can help us piece together that puzzle – they can help us understand the lives and work of the photographers working in the lower South, and vice versa (see my recent posts on Alabama, Florida and Georgia in Part 1, and North and South Carolina, and Tennessee in Part 2).


In the state of Maryland, few people have done as much work to gather information on that state’s nineteenth century photographers as has Ross J. Kelbaugh. His Directory of Maryland Photographers, 1839-1900 was first issued in 1988, and reissued in 1998. Kelbaugh’s books are published by his company, Historic Graphics, and information on his publications is at the company website http://www.historicgraphics.com/

On this site you will find an announcement for Kelbaugh’s latest, a Civil War Maryland photo history, and most important for us, you will find here his “Free Directory of Baltimore Daguerreans.” This alphabetical listing of early Baltimore photographers includes biographical information, locations of operations, and business activity dates. The online directory was issued earlier as Directory of Baltimore Daguerreotypists (1989), but the online list is more extensive.

Kelbaugh published a related article, “Dawn of the Daguerrean Era in Baltimore, 1839-1849” in the summer 1989 issue (v. 84 #2) of Maryland Historical Magazine, pages 101-118. That article was reprinted in the Daguerrian Annual 1998 as “Dawn of the Daguerreian Era in Baltimore, 1839-1849” (The Daguerreian Society, 1998).

Note that in many other sources, the word “Daguerrean, which Kelbaugh has often used, is spelled as “Daguerreian.”

Kelbaugh's MD Photogs bk

Kelbaugh, Ross – Directory of Maryland Photographers, 1839-1900 (ISBN 0-914931-00-8) This print directory (1988; 1998) lists over 760 men and women and is divided into two sections, “Baltimore City” and “Maryland Counties,” followed by “Select Biographies” of twelve photographers, and a one-page “Biographical Notes.”

Also available in print is his two-volume Directory of Civil War Photographers. The first volume of this set is the one related to my discussion today on resources for the states of the upper South.

Directory of Civil War Photographers v.1: Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and West Virginia [Historic Graphics (ISBN-0-914931-02-4)]; his volume 2 covers the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey [Historic Graphics (ISBN 0-914931-03-02)]. These two volumes in total contain over 3,000 photographers. Both volumes are paperback and spiral bound.

The “Guide to the Photographic Collections of the Maryland State Archives” website http://tinyurl.com/mfhal3g gives researchers a choice of viewing an Index by Photographer, in addition to by Location, and by Keyword. The Photographers Index is at http://tinyurl.com/kwqschy  Names link to photo or photos by that photographer, which may or may not be in digital form.

Langenheirm Bros glass stereo 1856

Cathedral, Baltimore MD; Langenheim Brothers, 1856 glass stereograph, collection J. Paul Getty Museum (object 2000.10.255) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

There is a personal website on Rootsweb called “Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos” which includes some information on Baltimore photographers. In the alphabetical listing of photographs submitted to this site, you will often find a digital image of a photographer’s or studio’s front and/or back marks, but it is difficult to determine under which entry you will find them.  http://freepages.hobbies.rootsweb.com/~ruppert/index.html


As far as I know there is not a printed guide to Delaware photographers available. An older article in Delaware History (spring-summer 1979; v.18 #3) covers twenty-four early photographers of Wilmington, Delaware:  “Daguerreotypists, Ambrotypists, and Photographers of Wilmington, Delaware, 1842-1859” by Jon M. Williams, pp. 180-193.

The Laurel Historical Society holds the Waller Photographic Collection, a collection of photographs taken by The Waller Studio of Laurel, Delaware. This photography studio was started in 1898 by Albert Waller in Laurel, in Sussex County.  He was later joined by his son Norman, who kept the studio open until his death in 1970. http://www.laureldehistoricalsociety.org/Waller_Photographic_Collection.html

The Delaware Public Archives http://tinyurl.com/lwflpz4 has some materials worth noting. Brown Photo Service in Georgetown, the Waller Studio in Laurel, and the Sanborn Studio in Wilmington are some of over 30 Delaware photographers represented in the Purnell Photograph Collection, 1860-1963 (Record Group #9015, Subgroup # 003, Series # 001) and there is a list of Delaware photographers/studios in the collection itself, but not online. http://tinyurl.com/k6368o5

The Frear Collection (RG #9015, Subgroup # 018, Series # 001) includes mostly carte-de-visites and tintypes by photographers R. C. Holmes, Harry D. Walls, Schwarz, J. H. Vane, and Snell & Stone from Dover; Bucher, J. Paul Brown, Beecher, Cummings, A. N. Sanborn, New York Portrait Studio, and W. H. Curry from Wilmington; J. M. Horning from Middletown; and Lefferts, W. W. Daugherty, and Edwards and Rice from Milford. The collection does not include digital images thus far. http://tinyurl.com/lttzbbh

The Delaware office of Clerk of the Peace once issued licenses to all kinds of retailers and merchants including Photographers. If you have an interest in a 19th century or early 20th century Delaware photographer, those records would certainly be worth pursuing. The lists of licenses issued were also published in the local newspapers.

The Delaware Historical Society holds a large collection of photographs in all formats. Most significant is the Arthur N. and A.N. Sanborn Studio collection, ca. 1900-1960.  You must contact them for information, and you must see these images on site. http://www.hsd.org/library.htm#Photograph Collection

The Archives of the Jewish Historical Society of Delaware (JHSD) is housed at the Delaware Historical Society. They do include photographs in their Archives, but you must contact them to find out about individual photographers. http://jhsdelaware.org/archives_manuscripts/

Only one Delaware newspaper is available online but you may find a photographer you are looking for here – 1881 to 1889 issues of the Sunday Morning Star are free to read at http://tinyurl.com/msmcvj2

See also the previous entry for Kelbaugh’s Directory of Civil War Photographers v.1 under Maryland, which includes Delaware.

Leath, E. C. cdv backmark

E. C. Leath, Petersburg, VA, carte-de-visite back mark; author’s collection


There are many sources of information on Virginia photographers – an embarrassment of riches. There is only one printed publication I am aware of but I have never actually seen – it’s Louis Ginsberg’s Photographers in Virginia, 1839 -1900: a Checklist (Petersburg, Va.: self-published, 1986). This out-of-print 64-page checklist may be available on various used book sites or through a library. To be honest with you, I have never looked for it because so much else on the subject now exists.

The Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory website for their Online Photo Collections is at http://tinyurl.com/mxu8sfy and they are searchable by Creator (photographer). There are a few choices on where and how to search as they work toward combining their sites. The Library of Virginia’s sites also cover the photograph collections of several Virginia public libraries.

The Hamblin Studio collection, accessible via the Library of Virginia, numbers 1,365 images dating 1909 through 1979, and contains the work of four different photographers. Originals belong to the Suffolk Public Library.

The “Memory” site provides access to digital images for collections of photos by particular photographers or studios, such as the later 20th century Adolph B. Rice Studio. Additionally, works by earlier photographers are found in The Library of Virginia’s Stereograph Collection. These 318 images, 1860s – early 1900s, are by photographers including the E. & H.T. Anthony firm and Bell & Bro. of Washington D.C.

Albertype Co., Handcolored Hot Springs VA post

The Cascades Gorge, Hot Springs, VA; handcolored post card by The Albertype Company, Brooklyn NY; author’s collection

The Virginia Historical Society has a good search engine on their website http://www.vahistorical.org/research/main.htm but they state that less than 5% of the collection has been digitized. Even so, a list of their collections that are in digital form thus far is at http://www.vahistorical.org/research/digitalcollections.htm  Two collections that are entirely digitized are the W. W. Foster Photography Collection http://tinyurl.com/kc2o2jp and the collection of 19th Century Photographs and Lantern Slides http://tinyurl.com/mfzwafo These records include name of photographer when known.

When you narrow a search by a particular photographer’s name here, you can restrict your search to those collections with digital images only. If you do not restrict your search, you will see an image if one or more digital images exist. Many items are stored off-site, which is also noted in the search record. Full records can be very descriptive, such as this one:

G. W. Pach & Brothers (photographer):  Object in storage, please make appointment to view; 1999.40.31 Photograph, Amanda Louise Pearis. Inscribed on back, ” Roanoke, Virginia/ Nov. 1890/ Sweetheart.” Full-length photograph. The young woman wears elaborate dress with open, high collar, tight bodice, overskirt with two “knots” of material and pleated underskirt. Subject also has heavy curled bangs.

There are some online exhibits at VHS that highlight individual photographers. Lewis Hine’s work in Virginia in June 1911 is highlighted in “Child Labor in Virginia” http://tinyurl.com/lu4g8n2  and there is also an exhibit on “Michael Miley, General Lee’s Photographer.” The exhibit includes other Miley photographs in addition to his portraits of Robert E. Lee, some by Miley & Son, which included his son, Henry. http://tinyurl.com/kkab86t

Rees, E.J. VA 1874cdvBack

E. J. Rees, Petersburg, VA, 1874 Carte-de-visite back mark; author’s collection

Virginia Commonwealth University’s website includes images belonging to the Valentine Richmond History Center. Of particular note is the online exhibit “Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans from the Cook Collection.” This digital collection has over 250 photographs of 19th and early 20th century African Americans, most of them taken in Richmond and central Virginia. The images are from the George and Huestis Cook Photograph Collection at the Valentine. http://tinyurl.com/lswnqmg  See also my related blog posts on this site about George S. Cook’s work in the state of Georgia.

“The Adam H. Peckler Historical Photographs of Lynchburg Virginia and Vicinity,” is on a site for the Visual History of Lynchburg, Virginia, which contains photos from various collections.  http://tinyurl.com/lavw55x

The Pickler collection of photos has been expanded and put onto Flickr at http://tinyurl.com/m68284m  Adam H. Peckler (1840-1929) opened a photo studio in Lynchberg in 1877 and was that city’s foremost photographer for many years. He served in the Confederate Army and is known for his many images of Confederate officers.

An older, out-of-print catalog folder for an exhibit at the Chrysler Museum, February 26 – April 23, 1989, “Mirror of an era: the Daguerreotype in Virginia” by Brooks Johnson, lists eleven Virginia and West Virginia daguerreotypists with some biographical information.

Many, many Virginia newspapers from the 1870s to the early 1900s are on the Chronicling America website by the Library of Congress. These offer a great opportunity for another look at any photographer of interest. Do not overlook these!

See also the previous entry for Kelbaugh’s Directory of Civil War Photographers v.1 under Maryland, which includes Virginia.

Walker Evans W.VA photo 1935

Walker Evans, Highway Corner, Reedsville W.VA, 1935; collection J. Paul Getty Museum (object 84.XM.129.5) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

West Virginia

The Photograph Collection at West Virginia Archives and History’s “West Virginia Memory Project” does not provide a way to search by Creator alone, and I am unaware of any particular photo collections of note, but the site is certainly worth exploring http://tinyurl.com/7fxl4ha

The Archives’ Clippings Files Subject Listing is online and a file for “Photography…Photographers” is included. There is also a Vertical Surnames File list which should include some photographers’ names.

The West Virginia History Collection http://wvhistoryonview.org/  can be searched by Creator name. For example, here are my search results on that site by simply inserting the name “Smith” in the search’s Creator field: http://tinyurl.com/mf367yz  Although the majority of the hits are for what seems to be a large collection of 20th century photos taken by David L. Smith, there are some earlier photographers represented.

Smith Bros. W. VA Hist Col.

Smith Brothers Studio, Martinsburg, W. Va.; Mary F. Clifford, Student, 1906, Storer College, Harpers Ferry, West VA (022433) W. VA & Regional History Collection, W. VA University Libraries

Two West Virginia newspapers, covering the 1850s to 1890s are on the Library of Congress’s free Chronicling America site. These should provide another good look at any 19th century W.VA photographer who interests you. The subscription site Genealogy Bank has two other newspapers covering the 1870s to late 1890s.

See also the entry under the Maryland listings above for Kelbaugh’s Directory of Civil War Photographers v.1 which includes West Virginia.

Washington DC view of Capitol detail real postcard

View from the steps of the Congressional Library, Washinton, D.C., detail of real post card, photo by “Alf Witham” 1906; author’s collection

Washington, D.C.

There are a number of resources in D.C. in which to research photographers working in all parts the country, and there are a multitude of sources using photos on various D.C tourist sites, as well as published books and websites on doing research there. As for sources that are restricted to only District of Columbia photographers, there are a few.

An article by John Waldsmith on stereo photographers in “Washington City, D.C.” was published in Stereo World (July-Aug. 1893; v.10 #3) pp. 14-21. 

Laurie Baty’s “Photographers of Washington, D.C., 1870-1885” was her MA thesis for George Washington University, 1979. Access to this item is rather scarce: copies are held by George Washington U. and the Smithsonian Libraries, both in D.C., and by the George Eastman House in Rochester N.Y. I believe Ms. Baty has a more formal guide planned for publication, so look for that in the future.

A real treasure exists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum for American History in their “Scurlock Photographic Studio Records, 1904-1994.” This extensive collection focuses on Addison Scurlock and his sons, an African Americans photo studio that depicted hundreds of people, dignitaries and luminaries as well as Washingtonians. The online exhibit “Portraits of a City: The Scurlock Photographic Studio’s Legacy to Washington, D.C” includes audio of George Scurlock speaking on photography, the business, moving into color photography, and his family. http://tinyurl.com/k7he94y

Scurlock dancers

Effie Moore & Troup, ca. 1915; Scurlock Studio Records, 1905-1994; National Museum for American History neg. # 2008-2192

Images by any photographer who worked for The Star before it closed in 1981, might be found in the Star Collection, 1935-1981, located at the D.C. Public Library http://dclibrary.org/node/2607

A single listing of all District of Columbia newspapers citing years of coverage, is at http://tinyurl.com/mmmwxjj The newspapers are a wealth of information on photographers’ locations, advertising styles, partnerships, etc. The list provides links to free newspapers, and for those that cost or need a subscription, where those newspapers are located.

There are for-pay sites not listed on this site which also have D.C. newspapers: Ancestry.com, Newspaperarchive.com, Newspapers.com, and Newsbank (accessible at your library).

See also the entry under the Maryland listings above for Kelbaugh’s Directory of Civil War Photographers v.1 which includes Washington, D.C.

B.S. Reynolds Wash DC F St from 9th c1910

B. S. Reynolds Co., Washington, D.C., tinted postcard ca. 1910, “F Street from 9th looking toward U.S. Treasury”; author’s collection

Final Comments

Well-known photographers, who worked in any of these states,  before or during the Civil War, or after (Mattew B. Brady, Frances Benjamin Johnston, etc.), are easily searched online and at your library. Publications and websites focusing other lesser-known photographers of the area should also be considered.

For example, there is a wonderful book that relates to the areas I have discussed above, as well as to my previous post of August 6th, and that is The Appalachian Photographs of Earl Palmer, compiled by Jean Haskell Speer (U. Press of KY, 1990) isbn10 – 0813116953; isbn 13 – 978-0813116952). Palmer roamed the mountains of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina with his camera for over fifty years. 

Try not to forget the valuable city directories. Many of these are online via Internet Archive and Ancestry.com, and on other more local websites. Unfortunately some years are only on microfilm, or only accessible at an archive. They will help to track photographers’ studios and families.

Next time I post a Tuesday Tips, I plan to discuss sources in what might be termed “the Border South states” of Kentucky and Missouri, so stay tuned, and Happy Hunting!

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering,  2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Margaret · · Reply

    Ms. Eltzroth,
    I was excited to read about your blog in Ken Thomas’ column in the Sunday AJC. I’ve already bookmarked “Hunting and Gathering” and am looking forward to reading more. I’ve been researching photographers in the Savannah as part of my research of ancestors from that area. I’m finding some of these photographers really got around! Thanks for sharing your obsession!

    1. Thank you for your nice comment, Margaret, and for reading Hunting & Gathering! Let me know if there is a particular Savannah photographer you have questions about.

    2. I hope you got to read my latest post, there is on Savannah pho graphed mentioned!

      1. Interesting! You might want to take a look at my blog Family Alubum Journey >http://familyalbumjourney.blogspot.com/2013/06/mystery-woman-part-1.html> where I’ve been doing some sleuthing with an old family album. I haven’t posted in a few weeks, but hope to do more as my schedule allows. I’m loving the city directories for finding out about photographers.

  2. Nicole Hudgins · · Reply

    Your link in the Maryland section to http://www.historicgraphics.com/ did not work for me. Does it work for you?

    1. Hi, it works for me from your message and worked when I posted. Sometimes these links become corrupted, and I will check it within the post and correct of I need to. Thanks for the heads up!

    2. Hi Nicole, I checked the link within the post and it worked for me. I am using my iPad now but I will check it from my laptop & desktop to see if I find a problem that route.

  3. Kevin Hemstock · · Reply

    Sir: I am seeking more information on the photo of the young woman, taken by John South, seen on this site. I am doing a biography of South and I’m very interested in the period during which he have a studio in Danville, where he was located before he moved his studio to Baltimore. Was their any information on the back of the picture? Any written words or letters? I might even have a notion of the identity of the subject.

    1. Hi there, and thanks for reading. I am a Ms, just FYI. Other than those sources listed, off the top of my head I can’t tell you more. IF I can find more, will get back to you after I investigate a bit.

      1. Kevin Hemstock · ·

        Thanks so much! Sorry about the gaffe.

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