Tuesday Tips: Researching Photographers Working in the South, part 4

AfricanAmerSoldier LongUnframedLC

Enoch Long, tintype, unidentified African American soldier of 33rd Missouri; LC-DIG-ppmsca-36456; unframed AMB/TIN no. 5026

click on any image to enlarge it

 Kentucky and Missouri

Today I want to write about the online, print, and other resources for two states that have been referred to as the “border states” – Kentucky and Missouri. As removed as these states seem to be from my home state of Georgia, they are important to me in the study of the nineteenth century photographers who worked here.

It was not at all uncommon for photographers in New York, Boston, Hartford, and others in various states in New England and parts of eastern Canada to develop branch studios, or to reestablish themselves, in the large, bustling cities of Louisville, Kentucky or St. Louis, Missouri. These practitioners would then venture further south for the fall and/or winter months, often stopping in Alabama, Georgia and Florida cities.

As I have previously written, it is the interplay of photographers among all these states that is so fascinating to me. Above is a digital image of a quarter plate tintype from the collection of the Library of Congress. It is a hand-colored portrait of an unidentified African American soldier of the 33rd Missouri, at Benton Barracks, Saint Louis. He holds a rifle and revolver and stands in front of painted backdrop with an American flag. This image was made by Enoch Long, a native of New Hampshire, between 1863 and 1865.

Enoch and his brother Horatio H. H [Hamlet] Long (d. 1851), worked in Augusta, Georgia during the months of August and September 1842. They had only just learned the process of daguerreotyping from Philadelphia’s Robert Cornelius in July. They also worked elsewhere in the South, in Alabama in 1842 and 1843, and in New Orleans about 1843. I still hope to find evidence that they visited other Georgia cities in addition to Augusta.

After establishing Long Brothers in Boston ca. 1844, they began working in St. Louis before 1848. Enoch continued to work there into 1865, then concentrated on his Illinois studio.  The Missouri Historical Society holds a Daguerreotype portrait of Enoch Long, ca. 1855, by Thomas Easterly.

University of Kentucky pano

University of Kentucky, panorama by Haines Photo Co., 1916; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, PAN US GEOG – Kentucky no. 3 (E size)


The University of Kentucky Photo Collections includes many collections of single photographs, some with photographers’ marks, as are found in the Herndon Family Photographic Albums Collection. It also holds some specific photographers’ work, such as the Russell Lee Photographic Collection and the Stereoscope Collection “Gems of Kentucky Scenery” by Carpenter and Mullen. http://exploreuk.uky.edu/

The digital images from these collections are also a part of the Kentucky Digital Library http://kdl.kyvl.org/  which provides access to collections from many Kentucky repositories, including the University of Kentucky. Before exploring the Digital Library, go to the site listing the collection guides http://tinyurl.com/kqk3ucp

Those collections that I listed above in the first paragraph can be found in the collection guides list.  Others collections highlighting individual photographers or studios which are listed here are the Lafayette Studios photographs (1920s into the 2000s), Underwood & Underwood, Doris Ulmann, and the Louis Edward Nollau Nitrate Photographic Print Collection. 

The University of Louisville has an excellent photograph collection. In my early years as a photo archivist, this out-of-state collection and staff was my first exposure to the high standards, attention to detail, and clarity of description with the goal of accessibility that I still believe are prerequisites for any repository holding photograph collections. Their Photographic Archives holds nearly two million photos, as well as associated records and manuscripts – just be careful, you will lose track of time gazing at the lovely images! http://louisville.edu/library/archives/photo

KY Derby 1926

First Kentucky Derby, 1926, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum, #SDN-066037

Many nationally known photographers are represented in their collections (Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Phillipe Halsman, Dorothea Lange, etc.), but there are also quite significant Kentucky photographers/studios such as the Caufield & Shook, and the Royal Photo Company Collections found here. These two studios existed simultaneously but had different approaches to their businesses.

The Caufield & Shook Collection has over ½ million negatives and 2,000 prints. Not all of these are available in digital form, but many, many are. The studio was founded in 1903, and this collection is a fantastic resource for documentation on the Louisville area and its people from early to late in the 20th century. It is particularly good for studying growth and change in a single photographic studio.

The Royal Photo Company was founded by Louis Bramson in 1904. He was later joined, in 1930, by his son Stern Bramson who ran the studio until 1973. This commercial photography studio did not take portraits, but did commercial, medical, and legal photography. All of the Collection’s close to 12,000 negatives and prints are now available in digital form.

The Royal Photo Company Collection is an excellent source for study of the technological change a commercial photo studio went through in almost seven decades. An article written about this studio, Bill Carner’s “Stern Bramson and the Royal Photo Company, Louisville, Kentucky,” was published in a 1995 issue of History of Photography (Spring 1995; v.19 #1).

KY coal LC

Marion Post Wolcott, Abandoned mining town near Chavies, KY, 1940; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div., LC-USF34-055612-D

The Digital Collections of the Kentucky Historical Society provides access to the William B. Ogden Studio Negatives Collection. The Ogdon was a studio that operated in Winchester, Kentucky from the mid 1920’s through the early 1970’s.

Also found here is the Wolff, Gretter, Cusick, Hill Studio Negatives Collection, which documents the work of a Frankfort, Kentucky photography studio. They were operated successively by E. Carl Wolff, Harry A. Gretter, and Forrest Cusick with his wife Anna and her brothers.  http://www.kyhistory.com/

An article written by Valarie Honeycutt Spears, published February 22, 2013, tells about several  20th century African American photographers with Kentucky roots, including Calvert McCann, twin brothers Marvin and Morgan Smith, and Chester Higgins Jr. http://tinyurl.com/lrp9uae

A documentary on the two Smith brothers, called M&M Smith: For Posterity’s Sake aired on PBS in 1997. This film was produced by Heather Lyons and was narrated by Ruby Dee, and it may be available from your public library; here is a description and source information for the film. http://www.newday.com/films/M_M_Smith.html


St. Louis Expo LC

View from Grand Basin, World’s Fair, St. Louis 1904, stereo card published by E.W. Kelley; LC Prints & Photographs Div. stereo #1s03481 

I may be a bit out of my depth here, but one source I am familiar with is a very useful one and that is David A. Lossos’s “Early St. Louis Photographers.” There are over 1500 studios listed, preceded by a good history of photography in the city which highlights its involvement from the early days in the photographic industry. http://tinyurl.com/mdh7w6f

This is a part of the “Genealogy in St. Louis” website which could possibly lead you to additional information on any photographer who interests you. http://genealogyinstlouis.accessgenealogy.com/

St. Louis was also the publishing home to the journal St. Louis and Canadian Photographer, published under that title from 1888-1905 by a woman, Mrs. Fitzgibbon-Clark. It was previously published as The St. Louis Practical Photographer (1878-1882), and The St. Louis Photographer (1886-1887).

The Missouri State Archives holds about 500,000 photo prints and negatives. Their Missouri Digital Heritage site, plus their Flickr page, allows you to look at some of these images. A search page for the former is at http://www.sos.mo.gov/mdh/

Their African American Portrait Collection is primarily made up of Cabinet Cards, many with photographers’ marks. Some studios represented by these images include the DeVinney Studio, Moberly MO.; Carpenter Studio; J. A. Thomason Studio; Tomlinson Brothers Studio; and Smith Studio, St. Louis. http://tinyurl.com/mlnkjhu

Sunflowers by Lee, LC

Russell Lee, Sunflower heads in field, New Madrid County, Missouri, May 1938; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division #LC-USF33-011562-M3  

The Missouri State University Digital Collection has a number of photographs by named photographers and studios: Lytle Studio, Springfield; Weeks Studio, Linn; Horn’s Studio, The Cooley Studio Grand, Springfield; and Shaw Studio, El Dorado Springs, but I am unaware of any collections of images by individual photographers / studios located here. http://digitalcollections.missouristate.edu/

And of course, don’t forget the valuable newspapers, many online, in your search for a particular photographer or studio. In addition to those found on the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site, The State Historical Society of Missouri site includes a growing collection of online newspapers from the 1840s to the 1920s. A list of cities and dates of coverage can be found here: http://shs.umsystem.edu/newspaper/mdnp/mdnptable.shtml

You may first want to take a look at Kenneth R. Marks’ guide to “Researching Free Missouri Historical Newspapers.” http://tinyurl.com/k938bv6

That’s it for this week’s Tuesday Tips. My next posts will highlight sources for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. Texas may or may not be as a separate post. I am considering doing a post on the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, but I have not quite made up my mind.

I wish you good luck in your Hunting, but don’t forget to Gather and make some sense of those collected goodies!

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without  written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and 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. Frances Osborn Robb · · Reply

    Lee Another fine overview. Perhaps someone in the mid-west, mid-Atlantic/New England, and West will come through with something similar. Peter Palmquist did a superb job with trans-Mississippi photographers, but there is still a lot to do to make these photographers come to life, as you do so ably. Thanks. Frances Robb

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Frances. I just went in and took care of a few typos, unexpected bold, etc., so there is always room for improvement!

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