Studying, With Tuesday Tips



Frances Benjamin Johnston, cyanotype, untitled scene of “A student field trip to the Library of Congress”; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ds-00817;

There are are several good things on researching photographs and photographers that have come to my attention the past two months. I decided it was about time to share them.

Photographic History – New Online Sources

Sean William Nolan’s book titled Fixed in Time is a significant piece of research. I  was told about this publication a few years ago. I purchased a copy via Lulu, and it is a great addition to my library. This guide to daguerreotype, ambrotype and tintype mats and cases is not only for photo historians and collectors and dealers of photographs, but for anyone with an interest in pinpointing a more exact date of a cased image.

Nolan expanded his 2015 book in 2016 with illustrations and dates for approximately three times as many case and mat designs as his first edition. The big news is that this book is now free online and available as a PDF, although you can still buy a hard copy if you want to. I was able to print out a 2017 one-page of errata (a few date changes, etc.) for my older edition, but those corrections are included in the free PDF. See Sean Nolan’s Facebook page for information and the link to his free, and to his printed book, Fixed in Time. I think his FaceBook site is visible even if you do not have an account.

The Library and Archives Canada has a wonderful resource online for those of us interested in photo history, as well those concerned with photo conservation or preservation. It is called the Lingua Franca – A Common Language for Conservators of Photographic Materials

Most useful to my work is their Chapter One: Processes, wherein every photographic process, from the first popular format, the Daguerreotype, to the twentieth-century Dye Diffusion Print developed by Polaroid, is defined. There are also chapters on Condition Issues, Treatment Options, Preventative Care, Technical Studies, and Provenance. This last, Provenance, is also quite important to my work. This is another good source, in addition to the above mentioned Nolan book, for identifying your cased images with information on “Plate Marks,” “Stamp on Brass Mat,” and “Inscriptions.”  The latter, as described in the Lingua Franca, would also apply to later photographic processes, and for that you should also consider “Artist Signature” as well as “Paper Backprinting.”

That wonderful site compiled by our friend Bill Becker at The American Museum of Photography, has a very nice Brief History of the Carte de Visite you may be able to put to use. Check out the site periodically as the online exhibits and other fascinating information sometimes change.

Updates: Researching Photographers Working in the South

The last time I posted a Tuesday Tips (June 2017) I wrote about the  C. M. Bell Studio Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of over 30,000 glass negatives, 1873 to 1916. Since then John Edwin Mason, a professor and historian at the University of Virginia, has written a wonderful piece about Bell on his blog. It is called “The Kiss: A Mystery from the C.M. Bell Studio Archive” wherein he explores some puzzling images of women made in the Bell photo studio. Who were these women and what does that kiss mean? You will also see in Mason’s post several other wonderful Bell images. It is indeed a fabulous collection and there is more to explore and more questions to ask, and perhaps answer, by perusing the C. M. Bell Studio Collection. See what you can discover there!

Speaking of Washington D.C., their Department of Transportation has recently put about 2,000 of its 10,000 images online. Their new digital archive is called DDOT Back In Time. It includes photos of cars, bridges, streetcars, bicycles, aerial views, and much more. Read more about it.


Photographer and filmmaker H. Lee Waters, ca. 1942; photo from H. Lee Waters Film Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University; accessed 28 Aug. 2017

Duke University Libraries has made the H. Lee Waters Film Collection available online. These silent films document life in small town, 118 communities in all, in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, 1936-1942. As a teenager in North Carolina, Waters “developed a passion for photography, helping to run the projector at the local theatre and eventually apprenticing in the Hitchcock Studio at 118 ½ Main Street in downtown Lexington, N.C. In 1926, Waters bought the studio….”  During the Depression, when his photo studio was getting very little business, Waters began making films which were shown in local theaters. The H. Lee Waters Studio was back in business after WWII, and lasted until his death in 1997.

The city of Tampa, Florida is making two collections of historic photographs available online. I have previously written here about their impressive Burgert Brothers Collection. These two new collections,  available outside of the Library and to the public for the first time, are also historically significant.

They are: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Collection, which has over 30,000 images, ca. 1950-1990 documenting Tampa events, and The Tampa Photo Supply Collectionover 50,000 images, 1940-1990, made by two photographers, Rose Rutigliano Weekley and Joseph Scolaro. These photographs focus on West Tampa, Ybor City, and South Tampa.

Other Research News – USA and Beyond

The International African American Museum (IAAM) will be opening in early 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Although that seems a long time, it is only three years! But, there is good news, the IAAM  website is up right now, and it is growing. There are obituary, funeral and marriage records, as well as research tips and a blog written by genealogist Robin Foster. Most exciting to me is there “Ancestor Archive” of photographs – and they are looking for contributions.


Cover of Val Williams’ The Other Observers: When Photographers in Britain 1900 to the Present (Virago, 1986)

A book, TV series, and exhibition in Britain entitled The Other Observers: Women in Photography in Britain, 1900s to the Present was curated and written by Val Williams. It was commissioned in 1984 by the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, and was the first historical account of British women in photography in the 1900s. It is now available as a PDF download which can be found on the website British Photographic History. Also found here is a description of the project and exhibition and information on a recent, related exhibit on those 1900s photographers’ relationship to contemporary photography.

Georgia, and other, Newspapers

Not one, but two recent announcements about Georgia Newspapers is more than exciting. First announcement: Digital Library of Georgia is bringing all their newspapers to one site, their Georgia Historic Newspapers. This is a combination of a reworking of their individual historic newspaper sites, and several newly added newspapers. The important thing for me is that the Augusta Chronicle is now accessible. And all the Columbus newspapers, which were still in the old format and not accessible to those of us using a Mac, are now available on this new site, to all of us.


When you access the site, you will see a map of the state of Georgia [to its right is a “Recently Added” box] which is divided into sections for North, West, East, Middle, and South, as well a section for Metro Atlanta, click on the section/area of your interest to see which counties and cities are included as well as which newspapers are available. The newspapers are listed below, in groupings by each county.

For “West Georgia” we now have access to a series of Columbus newspapers, 1828-1893, three from Taylor County (the Taylor County News and the Butler Herald are more contemporary, 1962-current, but the Butler Herald, 1875-1962  I would actually call “historic”). I find it perplexing that there is only one copy of the four-page Fayette Chronicle here (Nov. 5, 1866), I imagine the other digitized Fayette County newspapers on the older site will be added at some point.

Via the “South Georgia” section we see that three smaller Chatham County newspapers are available (a few issues of The Colored Tribune, The [Catholic Laymen] Bulletin, the Waycross Headlight), but the larger Savannah historic newspapers thus far remain on the original site.

I like the new site, it’s wonderful to be able to access the Augusta newspapers, as well as many others that were not available to us before now.  But there are several things I cannot do, or see here, that I make use of on the older sites. I am one of those (few?) who use these newspapers constantly. What I am I missing? Maybe I am just not “doing it right!”

Here is a list of what I really miss from the “old” DLG Historic newspapers (I know changes will come to this new one, it is a very young site!).

my search terms being at the top of the page to remind me of exact term(s) these results were to find

the ability to easily Modify my original search, or Begin a New Search

when I have narrowed my search by date, I should be able to sort the results to see the Oldest First; if I attempt to revise in order to do this, why do I get 1799 newspapers when I have absolutely specified 1840-1860 newspapers?  — it seems that I am not allowed to see my original search in chronological order.

Second announcement: The Advantage Preservation company has contracts with several hundred libraries around the U.S., including several in Georgia, to digitize and host their online newspaper collections. These are the newspapers of the smaller towns in Georgia, and I am thrilled to have access to them.

Coverage is different for each, some are strictly twentieth-century, others begin in the nineteenth. They are all listed by the king of newspaper resources, Kenneth Marks, in his blog, The Ancestor Hunt. The Laurens County newspapers are available at the Oconee Regional Library System only, but the other Georgia newspapers, listed by county, are available online:

Click on a newspaper and you will see the Search box. Scroll down below that box and you will see newspaper titles and years covered – you can browse here, or you can see what years are covered in order to narrow your topic search by inputing a particular range of dates. In your list of hits, click on the title of the newspaper to access that issue. Your search term will be highlighted. See Advantage’s tutorial of the Image Handling process to help you with your search, and saving or printing your image.

The U.S. News Map is a co-project of the Research Institute at Georgia Tech and e-history at the University of Georgia. Here you can search over 11 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1922, and visualize your results across the map of the USA.

I do not find this the very easiest site to use, but with persistence you can find some significant items related to your topic. All results are from LC’s Chronicling America. Narrow your search by time period, etc. Results are in the PDF format which means you can easily “take a snapshot” of the article you want, and print it.

Next time I will highlight some information from two of my readers on Georgia women in photography. I plan two separate posts, one for information and photos by some new-to-me “accomplished amateurs,” and another to highlight a professional I have known about, with images I had never before seen, and some new information. So — there is more Hunting and Gathering in store for all of us!

Text © E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2017. 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.




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