Tuesday Tips: Louisiana & Mississippi, Part 6 of Researching Photographers Working in the South

Evans NOLA 1935

Walker Evans, New Orleans, Louisiana Street Scene, 1935; Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Louisiana, and a Georgia Connection

Those of us from elsewhere think only of New Orleans when we consider Louisiana. As far as recognizable images, those of that city are the ones with which we are most familiar. There are many late 20th and early 21st century books about or from the city of New Orleans. There are those by the many photographers who have documented the world of Jazz – one example is William Claxton’s New Orleans 1960 and there is photographic documentation of Hurricane Katrina done by photographers like George Long, Stephen Wilkes, and a number of others. But my interest is in those photographers who documented 19th to mid-20th century Louisiana, and of course there is much more to any state than a single city.

Photography in NewOrleans

One of the first directories in my personal photo history library was Photography in New Orleans by Margaret Denton Smith and Mary Louise Tucker (LSU Press, 1982). One photographer listed in this book is Jay D. Edwards, an Atlanta, Georgia photographer who began his photography career in New Orleans.

In 2008, The Historic New Orleans Collection published a beautiful catalog for their exhibit A Closer Look, the Antebellum Photographs of Jay Dearborn Edward, 1858-1861.  His descendant and namesake, Jay D. Edwards provides a biography in the publication, and the lovely reproductions include many of the photographer’s salted paper prints of New Orleans streets and businesses, all held by the HNOC. These images are believed to be the earliest photographs made of the city in that medium. You can still look at their past online exhibit here: http://tinyurl.com/kv8n774

Edwards is also considered by some as the “first photographer of the Confederacy” because of his February 1861 photographs taken of Confederate troops at Pensacola, Florida. Several of these images are in various collections around the country, including the U.S. Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks (PA), and the Museum of the Confederacy (Richmond VA). Many are reproduced in the Image of War, edited by William C. Davis, volume 1: Shadows of the Storm (Doubleday, 1981), including the image below.

Edwards Pensacola 1861

J. D. Edwards. Confederate camp, Warrington Navy Yard, Pensacola, FL, 1861; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div., LC-DIG-ds-00237

In Atlanta, Edwards continued to specialize in landscape and commercial photography for a time, eventually joined by his son William in Edwards & Son. The two also did studio photography. Much of this commercial work is at the Atlanta History Center at http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/

I have researched Edwards on and off for decades, interviewing several family members along the way. He had a fascinating life in the years between leaving Louisiana and arriving to Georgia. Members of his family, including children, in-laws and grandchildren, worked in his Atlanta studio and the Edwards photography business continued in various forms for several years after his death. Atlanta’s Edwards family of photographers deserves more attention, and I will eventually post about them here at Hunting & Gathering.

Edwards & Dorman 1886

J. D. Edwards & son-in-law Louis K. Dorman were partners only two years; their 1886 advertisement in the Atlanta City Directory

The Ralston Crawford Collection of Jazz Photography at Tulane University includes about 800 black-and-white photographs of the New Orleans 20th century work of Canadian-born painter, lithographer, and photographer Ralston Crawford (1906–1978). This is part of the Hogan Jazz Archive Photography Collection.


Octave Crosby at the piano, Paddock Lounge, 1950; Ralston Crawford Jazz Photography Collection, Tulane University, Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz 

The LOUISiana Digital Library includes images from several repositories, including Tulane, LSU, the Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC), and others. http://tinyurl.com/phz5qer

Viewable on LOUISiana is the ‘Andrew D. Lytle Baton Rouge’ Photograph Collection, part of The LSU Libraries Special Collections. Lytle is another photographer we believe came through Georgia in his Southern route as an itinerant, but I have not yet found any documentation for that visit.

Lytle, an Ohio native, was in Baton Rouge to photograph the capture and occupation of that city by Union forces, and he decided to stay. His Civil War photographs, and those he later took for the state, his portraits, snapshots and his photographs of the out-of-doors are all represented here. http://tinyurl.com/nfnaup6

In addition, there is an online exhibit about Lytle, “An Eye of Silver,” which includes many images and biographical details. http://tinyurl.com/ptvpjfk

The Charles L. Franck and Franck-Bertacci Photograph Collections, held by the HNOC, contain the photography of two commercial photographs, one who succeeded the other. Both document the 20th century growth of Louisiana and New Orleans. http://tinyurl.com/mnzr84u

A favorite collection of mine, also held by the HNOC, is the John T. Mendes Photograph Collection. Mendes (1888 – 1965) was an amateur photographer who documented New Orleans locals and their activities. His self-published memoir, Dogs in My Life (1964) was republished as The Photographs of John Tibule Mendes (U. of New Orleans Press, 2009), which is another book I own and adore. http://tinyurl.com/ku5u5uc

The Frances B. Johnston Photograph Collection found via the LOUISiana Digital Library is a part of the collection at the Louisiana State Museum. This series, part of her architectural photographs made for Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, is of Louisiana structures, including plantations. The images can also be seen on the Library of Congress site, but the fact these are signed make this collection of Louisiana images somewhat unique. http://tinyurl.com/kr8pyor


Francis Benjamin Johhnston. Woodlawn Plantation, Napoleonville vicinity, Assumption Parish, LA, 1938, part of Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div., LC-DIG-csas-01622

The Louisiana State Museum holds other significant 19th and early 20th century collections of photographers’ work, including George F. Mugnier, Samuel T. Blessing, Olidé P. Schexnayder, and John Norris Teunisson, as well as a collection of Robert W. Tebbs’s photographs of Louisiana plantations, ca. 1926. Mugnier, Blessing and Teunisson all documented various aspects of New Orleans. http://tinyurl.com/mzuu84k

Immigrant George François Mugnier, born 1855, was trained as a watchmaker but by 1884 he was advertising as a photographer. His images document New Orleans from about 1885 to 1920. One book about Mugnier and his photography is by Lester Burbank Bridaham: New Orleans and Bayou Country – Photographs (1880-1910) by George Francois Mugnier (Weathervane Books, 1972).

Samuel Blessing was a brother of Texas photographers John P. and Solomon T. Blessing (see my prior post on Texas photographers http://wp.me/p3wX4F-9w). He settled in New Orleans in 1854 and began his career as one of the city’s photographers. He gradually branched out into selling photographic stock and his became one of the largest studio and stock house in the South.

Olidé P. Schexnayder (born 1871) photographed his family and the rural life of the Louisiana communities he lived in from about 1892 until about 1906 when he became an optician.

The Louisiana Division/City Archives Photograph Collection (NO Public Library) holds over 40,000 photographic images. http://nutrias.org/~nopl/photos/photolist.htm  Among their interesting Special Collections photographs is another collection of photographs by John Norris Teunisson and they provide more biographical information for him, including the fact that his daughter Nellie May, worked as his assistant for a time. Additional Teunisson collections located at other repositories are also cited here. http://nutrias.org/~nopl/photos/jnt/teun.htm

They also hold another collection of George Francois Mugnier photographs. http://nutrias.org/~nopl/photos/mugnier/gfm.htm

The New Orleans Museum of Art has a large photography collection and is strong in work, usually less than ten images, about New Orleans by both regional and national photographers (E. J. Bellocq, Walker Evans, Clarence John Laughlin, Robert Polidori, and according to my notes, J. D. Edwards) http://www.noma.org/collection

Let’s not forget the usefulness of newspapers and city directories in our search for information on a particular photographer. The Louisiana Newspaper Access Program (LaNeAP) is focused on titles that do not appear in the LC Chronicling America series of newspapers. http://tinyurl.com/mdk3qzu  The Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project (DLNP) from the LSU Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library is related to the LC project. It now includes 78 titles, 1836-1922, and more will be added in the next few years. http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/cc/dlnp/

Mississippi, and a Georgia Connection

von Seutter

E. von Seutter Photograph Collection, believed to be the photographer’s daughter, Gerty, taking his photograph, c1869, Jackson MS

The Mississippi Department of Archives & History (MDAH) has uploaded their Collections to Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/mississippi-dept-of-archives-and-history/sets/

Several collections you can see here deserve notice: The E. von Seutter Photograph Collection of thirty-five (35) original stereocards and forty-eight (48) photographic prints were mostly taken by Elisaeus and his son Armine von Seutter, photographers. Images include downtown Jackson in the aftermath of the Civil War, and portraits from the von Seutters’ studio, their family and their home, c1870s.

A fascinating album, patented 1865, of cartes de vistite was donated by Milburn J. Crow. The album contains 90 photographs of the Benjamin Thornton Montgomery family, friends and associates. In 1867, Montgomery, an engineer, businessman, and ex-slave, bought two Davis Bend, Mississippi, plantations from his former owner, Joseph Emory Davis, a brother of Jefferson Davis. Many of the photographers of these images are Mississippi photographers, although not all.

Anna A. McCalloway

Crow Photograph Album page, Anna A. McCalloway, ca.1870, photograph by A.L. Blanks, Vicksburg, MS; Mississippi Dept. Archives & History call #PI/2005.0015  

Also notable is a collection of photographs by amateur photographer Milton Painter. It has over 1,000 images, 1912 into the 1920s, of the Friars Point, Mississippi, regions surrounding Coahoma County, and other places. He also documented the levees and lakes and steamboats of the Mississippi River.

Fishing trip

“Fishing trip – critical at moment” by Milton McFarland Painter, Sr.; Mississippi Dept. Archives & History call # PI/1988.0006/Box 557

A photographer named Jack Cofield left Georgia in about 1928 and moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where he purchased the photography studio of Tom Majure. Cofield was the third generation of a family of Georgia photographers. He, John R. “Jack” Cofield, had been an assistant to his father, photographer John I. Cofield, in his Cordele, Georgia studio from 1920 until his departure for Oxford. John I. Cofield was a photographer in Unidilla, Georgia, before his move to Cordele in 1899, where he remained. His wife Jane, Jack’s mother, also eventually worked in the Cordele studio.

His grandfather, John B. Cofield (b.1841), was a photographer in Perry, Georgia, briefly, before opening his photo studio in Hawkinsville. His uncle, Carl T. Cofield, was a Hawkinsville photographer by 1910, and was a photographer there through 1940. Because Jack’s son, also called Jack, worked in the Oxford, Mississippi photo studio, there were actually four generations of Cofield photographers.

In Oxford, Jack Cofield, who became the preferred photographer of author William Faulkner, was called “Colonel” Cofield. A story about him that ran in the Marietta (GA) Journal (May 1, 1974 p.4) is that Cofield would not sell a Faulkner photograph to the “Yankees” of West Point who had requested one. He was finally convinced otherwise.

The University of Mississippi Archives and Special Collections holds the [Jack R.] Cofield Collection, 1896-1978 http://tinyurl.com/l8bvs5s  The collection includes Cofield’s photos of Faulkner (as well as older ones he collecte), the town of Oxford, Lafayette County, and photographs taken for the University of Mississippi Yearbook. The Cofield materials are stored offsite but with a two-day notice, they can be used for research.

Publications related to Cofield’s photography include his own Many Faces, Many Moods (published in William Faulkner of Oxford; edited by James W. Webb and A. Wigfall Green; LSU Press, 1965), Thomas Rankin’s article “The Ephemeral Instant: William Faulkner and the Photographic Image” in Faulkner and the Artist (ed. Donald M. Kartiganer, Ann J. Abadie; University Press of Mississippi, 1996), and William Faulkner: The Cofield Collection (Oxford: Yoknapatawpha Press, 1978).

The University of Southern Mississippi holds the Robert Waller Photograph Collection, 1945-1977. Waller was a professional photographer in Hattiesburg who worked out of his home. He also worked as a photographer for the Hattiesburg American newspaper, and his work documents southern Mississippi life and people. http://digilib.usm.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/waller


And we must not forget the publications on various locations from Arcadia Publishing, and their use of photographs. Three books on Natchez, Mississippi, by Joan W. and Thomas Gandy (published in 1998 and 1999), primarily used images by three Natchez photographers, Henry D. Gurney, Henry C. Norman and his son Earl Norman; the older Norman trained under Gurney. The books are Victorian Children of Natchez, Natchez: Landmarks, Lifestyles, and Leisure, and Natchez: City Streets Revisited.

I hope this taste of what is available in these two states on photographers who have worked there has been useful to you. As always, there is so much more to add, but this should get you started. So – have fun, enjoy making those connections, and enjoy your Hunting and Gathering.

© 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. Outstanding post. So much interesting information. Who knew?

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you found it interesting. It’s especially fun for me to discuss the connections to the GA photographers.

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