Women in Georgia Photography, the 2022 Gold

Women prospectors on their way to Klondyke [Klondike], 1898 (stereograph) photographed and published by B.W. Kilburn; The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. 

In time for Women’s History Month in 2021, I counted 275 women among the photographers included in my database. Now, during the same month 2022, I count 283 women in my database, but as I revisited the collections of 1900 and 1910 census records I gathered for “photographers, Georgia,” it seems I’m prospecting for gold! Now the number is up to 310!

Here are some interesting details about some of these new-to-me women who were not only photographers, but were photo-artists and retouchers, studio and gallery clerks, photo supply owners and their employees.

Sometimes discovering a woman connected to photography leads to information on others. Ella L. Mears is noted as a photographer in Calhoun, Gordon County, according to the 1900 census. There is also a James, Thomas, and Elijah (?) boarding in the same house who were also photographers. It seems nineteen-year-old Ella was married to thirty-two-year-old Thomas, and the other two men were his brothers. By 1910, the couple was living in Tennessee, and in 1920 he was again taking pictures, and she was raising their daughter.

Forty-year-old Lizzie Crook is noted on the 1900 census as a photographer in Randolph County, as is her husband James. She had been married before and James was her (probable) second husband — her daughter and son with a different surname live there, too. Other out-of-metro-Atlanta women found in the 1900 census include sisters Ann (age 26) and Mattie (age 25) Withrow of Morganton (Fannin County); Juanita C. Smith, of Swainsboro, who was married to a physician; and Julia Strickland of Acworth, who was single, but owned her own home.

Nora [Lenora] Gorham, thirty-one, was noted in the 1900 census as a photographer in Atlanta, along with her husband Earnest. He is listed with photographers in the 1900 through 1912 Atlanta city directories, but by 1919 he was secretary-treasurer for the Camp Gordon Jitney Bus Association. There is more work to do on Nora to find out if she continued to work as a photographer alone or with her husband, for as long as he did.

According to the 1910 census, twenty-year-old Affa Tabor was a clerk in a photo gallery. The 1911 and 1915 Atlanta city directories show that she was working as a stenographer for the Southern Photo Materials Company. Nellie Sue McDonald (1889-1940), also twenty, was a bookkeeper in an Atlanta photo supply house in 1910, and twenty-nine-year old Ida Adair was a “forman lady” in an Atlanta photo company. Willie M. Henney, eighteen, who lived in nearby Clarkston, in DeKalb County, was a “Bander,” or probably a Binder, for a photographer, but I am not sure what that means.

Another woman connected to photography leading to more information on others, is Ollie Elizabeth [English] Keheley (d. 1974). She married photographer Van Washington Keheley (1880-1947) in 1911. His brother William Marion Keheley was working as an Atlanta photographer by 1910, and by 1911 he and Van were partners as Keheley Bros. The brothers specialized in photo enlargements, solar prints, and bromides, and in 1918, when he registered for the draft, Van gave his occupation as Solar Printer, Georgia Art Supply Co. The advertisements for Keheley Brothers turn out to be for the Georgia Art Supply Company, and by the 1920 census, Ollie Keheley was also working as a printer for the “Photo Co.” I’ve much more research to do on the Keheley family, several of whom were involved in the Atlanta arts and photography community, including Lemuel P., his son Joseph N., and a Rosa Keheley.

And some interesting details on a few of the women who are “old” to me, but may be new to you:

Miss Anniel Pickett, photographer, Americus, GA: Detail of sepia-toned photograph of her great-niece Edith Schumpert; collection of Katrina Berube

Americus, Georgia, photographer Miss A.L., or Annie (Anniel) Pickett, 1862-1949 (search this site for more on her) was a milliner before she became a photographer.

In the Americus Times Recorder (Nov. 11, 1920, p7 col. 1) she is noted as one of only five women to vote in the city primary election, although many more women had registered. This local election is notable for other reasons. One is that although the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, the women in Georgia were unable to vote in a national election until 1922. The law in Georgia required that voters register six months before an election, and the state congress refused to waive this rule with an Enabling Act. 

Back mark of D. I. Bradbury, Atlanta, ca. 1915; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

Dessie Inez Bradbury (1877-1920) worked as a photographer in Atlanta from at least 1905, shortly after she was widowed, through 1915, and probably until her death in May 1920. She had two photographers boarding with her when the 1920 census was taken January that year, who may have worked for her.

The photographs Bradbury made in the operating room of Atlanta’s Grady Hospital are unique within my collection of images made by Georgia photographers, and I have two of them. The operating room in which these images were made, showing an anesthetist at work, was still in use in 1936, by which time the hospital had two other operating rooms. That year the operating room depicted was “repainted and refinished” with WPA money, and it was then photographed by Kenneth Rogers (Atlanta Constitution, March 22, 1936, page 54).

D. I. Bradbury, photographer; ca.1915 Grady Hospital, Atlanta, showing procedures for administering anesthesia, (5×5 in) card photograph; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

Please contact me if you have more information on any of these women, either via this blog post, or via email. I hope you can find your own “Gold” in your springtime hunting and gathering. I know I have much more to share, so much more to tell you about Georgia’s photographers, including more women!

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including her photographs, without written permission from this blog’s author, is prohibited. With permission, excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering,

7 comments

  1. W. Allen · · Reply

    Quite amazing. Especially the medical image. Am reminded of Ottoman medical images of the turn of the century

    1. Thanks for reading. You will have to tell me more about those Ottoman medical images, I’m not familiar with them.

      1. W. Allen · ·

        I will. If I remember

  2. Such an interesting and generally neglected topic. Bradbury’s image of anesthesia being administered is extraordinary, thanks for sharing it!

  3. From the silvering in the shadows, that image looks like it’s an early gelatin silver print.

    1. …actually by 1915, not that early. 😊

  4. Thanks for reading, John!

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