March is Women’s History Month, but I did not even think about that as I finally prepared to post this second part of Readers and Research, Women Photographers. Part 1 was posted on 26 September, and that seems so long ago!
I wrote a little about the Americus, Georgia photographer, Miss A. L. Pickett in two previous posts, in a 2014 Friday Faces, and in 2015 in Good Common Sense. A few months ago, more information about her, as well as images, came from a reader of this blog whose great grandmother’s sister was the photographer Miss Pickett. The information I had gathered, plus so much more information from my Reader, made me realize I needed to do even more Research on this photographer! I love these exchanges of information with my readers because it forces me to concentrate on one photographer, out of the approximately 2,000 photographers and their associates that I have documented from 1841 well into the 20th century. Slightly over a tenth of those I have documented are women.
Known as Annie Lizzie Pickett (her gravemarker) to many, she imprinted her photos with slight name changes during her (decade plus) career as a photographer in Americus. In the earlier part of her career she used “Anniel Pickett,” which was at first handwritten, and later stamped on her photo mats. She also had her mats imprinted with “Miss Annie L. Pickett,” “Miss A. L. Pickett,”or simply, “Miss Pickett.”
Before opening a photography studio, Annie Pickett managed the shop of milliner Mrs. M. E. Raines (M. E. Raines & Co.). She probably began to work in the Raines shop before 1887. Annie would travel to New York City with her brother and choose novelties and Christmas goods to be sold in the store.
On April 24, 1888 (see Americus Weekly May 25, 1888 p.6 c.1), she and Mrs. Raines announced that Miss Anniel Pickett had purchased Mrs. Raines’ interest in the store. In the announcement, Pickett notes that she had been assistant and co-partner to Raines “for some years.” She continued at the original Forsyth Street location (between Cotton Ave. and the post-office) until she relocated the shop to Jackson Street, which, by March 1889, she called “The Star and Anchor.” Why that title was used as her business name is not clear, but in 1872, when Annie was about ten years old, there was a mention in the Weekly Sumter Republican (March 15, 1872 p.3 c.5) of “a style of ornament for the hair of guilt and silver stars, or anchors— fastened on one side of the front braid,” so perhaps this became a type of ornament for hats?
Annie was the manager of her millinery shop (at Jackson and Lamar, aka “Granberry’s Corner”), and she employed two women — a milliner, Miss Minnie Kerr, and a head clerk, Miss Ida Marsh. For some months there was also a dress-making arm of the Star and Anchor, run by Miss Molly Cobb.
On April 12, 1889, the shop advertised Easter and spring hats in the Americus Weekly Recorder (p. 6 c.5) – we can assume Pickett is “the boss” mentioned:
If you will always consult the “Boss” at the “Star and Anchor” about a Hat or Bonnet to wear with your new suit, rest assured, you will always make a hit. You never get left when it comes to STYLE, if you make it a point to patronize the
STAR AND ANCHOR,
On the Corner.
I do not yet know when the Star and Anchor millinery shop closed. “Miss Anniel Pickett” still advertised as a milliner in December, 1889, but she was not using a business name. In 1892 “Annie Pickett” ran several classified advertisements in the Times-Recorder pertaining to music. On March 22 (p. 6 c.4) she was selling two guitars and would teach buyers “Spanish Fandango and chords for free,” and on the same page (c. 1) she announced formation of “a mandolin and guitar club,” for the summer; she would teach six pupils in the morning, six in the afternoon, and four at night. She had been offering guitar lessons since February and she continued advertising the lessons into May 1892. In her May 1, 1892 (p.6 c.4) advertisement, she described her method: after students finished fifty lessons, they would be “enabled to play the most difficult music.”
There is no doubt that Annie Pickett was a multi-talented woman. By March 1895, when she was almost thirty-three, she opened a photography studio at 714 Lee street, which was actually the home address of the Schumpert family and herself, and where she was teaching guitar.
The first mention (aka advertisement) of Picket as a photographer I have seen, appeared in the Americus Times-Recorder on March 31, 1895 (p.4 c.3).
Miss Annie Pickett has been a student of art for several years, and has perfected herself in one of the most popular branches of photography. Miss Pickett is now taking the outdoor portraits most successfully, and is prepared to make those lovely life like pictures of the mantello style, on half size cabinet cards, last $1.00 per dozen. She also makes artistic pictures of groups at home with all the real surroundings.
A year later her studio was on Jackson Street. In March 1896, she hired a photographer, a retoucher and finisher, to work with her. His name was Hugo Schmidt (1865-1920), and he, the Times-Recorder of April 17, 1896 (p.8 c.4) noted, was
from Germany, [and] captured the gold medal at the Atlanta Exposition for Mr. Motes, of Atlanta, he having done the work on the Motes prize pictures.
One wonders what well-known photographer C. W. Motes thought about having his secrets revealed. Gasp! He did not do all the work on photos he exhibited at the 1895 Cotton States Exposition himself!
The same article described Pickett’s studio, which had “an inviting air,” and
the furnishings of this woman’s palace of photography are charmingly tasteful. The colors, white and gold, stand out in bold relief to match a delicate blue frieze capped by a wonderfully broad and expanded sky-light, such as a city gallery can seldom afford. This sky-light is fashioned after Morrison’s superb gallery light in Chicago.
The very finest lenses are employed by Miss Pickett in her lovely work, which consist of every style of picture taking known to the profession.
She became especially adept at photographing children in the studio and out, and had a reputation for it. I have two of Miss Pickett’s photographs of children (shown at the two blog posts linked above) and I believe that hers are among of the best photographs of children by a Georgia, or other, photographer I have ever seen. She had an unusual ability to bring out the individual personality of the children she photographed – she had “the gift.”
R. H. Schumacher, in an article on “Child Portraiture” (Wilson’s Photographic Magazine, 1914, v. 51, p. 121) wrote:
If you have not the gift of reading a child’s face your work cannot fail to disappoint your clientele; and if you are not able to strike the right chord when approaching a child who is to be photographed you will, of necessity, violate the laws of logic, which are the underlying basis of truth and beauty in a photograph, and, therefore, your results cannot be satisfactory.
Annie L. Pickett’s photographs of her niece Amos King Schumpert (left), age 16, and Joel Walter Hightower (right), age 24, after their Nov. 20, 1894 marriage; collection of Katrina Berube.
Annie Pickett made dozens of photographs of her adorable great-niece, Edith, who was born December 8, 1897, in Americus, Georgia, to Amos and Walter Hightower.
Edith was often photographed in hats. Her great-aunt’s millinery past is so evident in those particular photographs. You can see one of those hats in the photograph that begins this post.
It seems that Annie Picket began taking photographs of Edith in hats as soon as the little girl could wear them!
Even before Edith was born, Miss Pickett was working with children in her studio. On May 1, 1896 she began a “Children’s and Babies Carnival” in her photo studio. She advertised it in the Times-Recorder in late April and it ran for one week (April 29, 1896 p.4 c.5). The Carnival:
will continue for one week only. Admission $2 which will entitle every baby or child under 6 years to 1 dozen of those lovely “Platinos.” Mothers and nurses admitted free.
By October 2, 1896, she was advertising new equipment especially designed to photograph children, but I am not sure exactly what it was – a posing table or stand, a camera, a prop?
The babies and children. Let them come. My new baby apparatus has arrived. Miss Pickett’s Photographic Studio, south Jackson street.
Her studio was on south Jackson Street, “half way between Windsor Hotel and G. & A. depot,” at the corner of Church Street.
Pickett’s advertisement that ran in September and October 1897, mention that although there was a depression in the cotton market, everyone would still want photographs of the baby and all the children done by “a carefully and conscientious artist” who makes “pictures up-to-date in style and finish.”
On March 10, 1899, she was having “baby month” at her Studio, making steel engravings at $3.50 per dozen. She warned readers that her price would go up the following month. By September, she was advertising herself as “Miss Annie Pickett, Americus’ Up-To-Date Photographer.
It is uncertain when her photography studio actually closed, but I believe it was sometime between 1905 and 1910. In March 1900 someone brought a complaint against her before the Americus city council “for waste water from Miss Pickett’s Studio.” In April, the water and city’s sewerage committee recommended that Miss Pickett be “required to connect waste water from the studio with sanitary sewers,” and the motion was passed (Americus Times Recorder April 5, 1900 p. 3 c. 4). Later that month she put a notice in the newspaper that she would be absent from her studio until further notice, but “save your babies until my return.” By the end of the month it was noted she was taking views in Alabama.
She did return, and was living with her sister Sarah Schumpert and the the Hightowers – her niece, her husband and their daughter Edith. Edith, who was to be the first of four children, remembered playing in her great aunt’s photo studio.
Pickett was still making photographs, but not strictly in the studio. She took several candid photographs of her family and probably made the sweet photograph (right), unsigned, of Edith in her pretty hat and big smile. Edith is holding the hand of her grandfather, not that long before his death.
The photograph below documents Edith and a boy dressed for a “lilliputian wedding,” a popular pastime during the late 19th century, which lasted well into the 20th. These “weddings” developed from the very real 1863 wedding of Charles S. Stratton, known as General Tom Thumb, and Miss Lavina Bump, known as Lavinia Warren, and were sometimes called Tom Thumb weddings. In real life, Edith Schumpert Hightower married Keith Kirkman Tatom on Jan, 1, 1923, and they had a long, happy life that took them far from Americus, Georgia.
In addition to the aggravation of needing to hook up to the city sewer, photographer Annie Pickett was facing quite a lot of competition by the time she closed her studio. In November 1899, her studio was host to photographer, “Professor” A. C. Keily (1866-1926), who had most recently been working in Washington, Georgia. He had also worked in Fort Valley and Montezuma, and by the summer of 1900 Keily was listed in the Americus city directory as as resident photographer. He remained in that city until he sold out to another photographer in February 1910, and moved to Birmingham, Alabama.
Other photographers in the city included a well-known family of photographers named Van Riper. Charles Van Riper was working as a photographer in Americus in the fall of 1900, then worked in both Tifton and Moultrie, and returned to Americus in 1906. He worked as a photographer there to about 1911, when he began a grocery store.
His father D. W. [Daniel Wilson] Van Riper, a photographer in Georgia since the 1860s, had worked in Americus as a photographer for about a year in 1879 – 1880, he then returned and was working in Americus from September 1881, until he retired sometime in 1895.
Perhaps it was from D. W. Van Riper that Annie Pickett learned the photographic trade? D.W. and Charles Van Riper and other family members are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Americus, Georgia, as is Annie Pickett, her parents and siblings.
According to the 1910 census, Annie Picket (born 1862) was living only with her older sister Sarah Schumpert (born 1842), now widowed. The sisters were two of nine children of clergyman/farmer Micajah Boulware Pickett (1812-1887), an early settler of Plains (Plains of Dura) Georgia, near Americus, and his second wife Elizabeth Drusilla Coleman (1821-1891).
Annie was no longer working as a photographer in 1910 and no occupation was recorded for her in the census. By 1920 she was working as a stenographer in a real estate office. That year she voted for the very first time and was one of only two women (of five total) to cast her ballot before noon in a primary election (Times Recorder Nov. 11, 1920 p.7 c. 1).
In the 1930 census no occupation was recorded, but Annie was about sixty-eight years old. Her sister Sarah Schumpert died in 1933, and Annie Pickett is counted in the 1940 census living alone. She lived another nine years, and died in Americus, Georgia, on December 17, 1949.
Annie L., or Anniel Pickett, had a career as a photographer that lasted only about a dozen years. In that short time, this professional photographer made a significant impact in the art of photographing Georgia’s children.
Hats, Music, Photography — it seems like a combination for a fine, good life to me! I hope you have enjoyed reading about Miss Pickett as much as I enjoyed writing about her, and about the subjects of her photographs. My thanks to Katrina Berube and her family for sharing the photographs used in this post. I hope that Annie has become as real to you as she has to me.
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2018. 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.
What wonderful information and what charming subjects. They all seem so at east before the lens. Thanks, as always, for an enlightening and detailed look at a woman photographer. Frances Osborn Robb
This research is staggering. Lee took a these few family photos and provided us all with a fully fleshed out, fascinating and creative woman. Thank you for the gift of Annie Pickett! To think she would have forever been just a name in the corner of a few photos, or an eccentric old auntie. I can’t fathom where these details were teased from, but together with Lee’s historical insights, we have such a fascinating story. I am so impressed and awed by this deep and detailed work (and work it must have been). My own research is looking sad and lazy. I am inspired to reach for your higher standard, Lee.
Thank you so much, Kartrina, for your kind words! Pickett has been a favorite of mine of the Georgia photographers, and I am so happy to have been able to highlight her at last.