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Thread: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

  1. #1

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    Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    Hi all, I have a strange request, my wife is am author and needs any information on women Itinerate photographers working around the period from 1860 to 1900. I have been unable to find any information, but was think that if women during that time would fake being a man to go into the army then there might have been some female photographers.

  2. #2

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    There were more women photographers in that period than men but they rarely got any recognition. Because of this information on them is very difficult to find. I have a friend who is very much into photography history. I will ask him what sources may be available.

  3. #3

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    Bob - I think your wife has had a very good idea. Either as a non-fiction or fictional subject.

  4. #4

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    This would be a fictional subject but she wants to be as accurate as possable
    Thanks for looking and any help you can give I knew this would be the right place

  5. #5
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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    Bob, I just did a quick "Google" under 'Women photographers in the west' and popped up several interesting articals and at least one non-fiction book on your subject. You might want to check that out. One under Women artist in the west (which was the second or third to pop up) lists a good many by name which might allow you to follow that stream on Google or through historical societies. Good luck.

    Tim
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  6. #6

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    Itinerant photographers tended to be portrait photographers. Virtually none of them - male or female - has gained much recognition. They tended to be unemployed engravers, draftsmen, failed painters, and the like who turned to photography as a means of making a living. Since people in those occupations tended to mostly be men, the photographers of that era - itinerant or otherwise - likewise tended to be men. They were businessmen, not artists, and their portraits were for the most part monotonously similar - straightforward, solemn, frozen. Surely somewhere there's a book or a thesis about female itinerant photographers, or at least itinerants in general or female photographers in general, that could be adapted to your wife's character, but I don't know of any.

    The only American female itinerant (I think) photographer whose name comes to mind is Mary Ann Meade. If there are no better sources, your wife might start by searching for information about her but I doubt that she'll find much. There were more female photographers in Europe during that general period who are known today - Anna Atkins, Julia Margaret Cameron, Genevieve Disderi, Clementina Hawarden, and Constance Talbot - than American. But I don't know to what extent they worked as itinerants. In general, like the itinerant male photographers of that era, the women don't receive much attention in the standard histories of photography.

    Unless your wife's plan is to stress aspects of itinerant photography related exclusively to being a female (e.g. risks of travel, discrimination, etc.)I wouldn't think it makes a lot of difference whether she draws her sources from information about men or women. Both groups were doing the same thing in the same way with the same objective. Certainly technical information about processes, chemicals, working methods, etc. would be the same.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  7. #7
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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    Bob,

    Two other thoughts occur.

    One is that several years ago, I encountered a beautiful print of a Washington mountain that was made by one of Edward Sheriff Curtis' daughters. I know nothing else about her, but the quality of that print convinces me that she followed her father's love of photography and his skill in print making. Whether she also followed his work as an itinerant with creating portraits of native American peoples or the northwest landscape, I have no knowledge.

    The other is a local Missouri author named Suzann Ledbetter. At an earlier point in her career, she did a series of fictional novels about very strong and independent women in the old west. She also did a book about several very "uppity" women in history and their effect on society.

    Clearly, she did a great deal of research and it is possible that she may have encountered information on women photographers in the west.

    I have seen Suzann (yes there is no "e") speak on a couple of occasions and she seems quite approachable as she stayed and enjoyed long conversations with the audience after her talks. Her web site is suzannledbetter.com.

    Perhaps your wife would find her of some help in either direct knowledge or with research suggestions.

    Best of luck.

    Tim
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  8. #8

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    I wonder if there is some sort of registry of all the thousands and thousands of MFA art history, photography, and feminist studies thesis/Masters projects?

    Some earnest feminist art historian had to have done this research....

  9. #9

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    Bob,

    I some times buy books in batches. I have not read this book yet, but looking through, I think your wife might want to look for a copy.

    “Until recently, little was known about early female daguerreotypists….Bertha Beckman learned the process from a daguerreotypists in Prague and then worked with her husband, Ehemann Eduard Wlhnert in Leipzig until his death, producing both paper and metal images. In 1849 she journeyed to New York, where for several years she listed herself as a maker of “phototypes,” first alone and then in partnership.

    “Other women daguerreotypists were making portraits during the early 1840s in the United States and Canada. About one hundred names have turned up-constituting, it is thought, about 2 percent of those pursuing the profession. Often they were itinerants, traveling a circuit of small towns and outlying settlements and operating either from portable darkroom wagons or from rented spaces. In some instances they may have been the first to introduce camera portraiture to a particular area, prompting others to set up more permanent establishments. For example, in 1843 a Mrs. Davis arrived in Houston for a stay of “two or three weeks,” during which the local populace was invited to obtain “accurate miniatures”; soon afterward a daguerreotype salon was opened by a male resident.” pages 42-3

    From the Contents page:
    Chapter 1
    At the beginning, 1839-90

    Chapter 2
    Not Just for Fun: Women Become Professionals, 1880-1915

    Chapter 3
    Porraiture, 1890-1915

    Rosenblum, Naomi; A History of Women Photographers; Abbeville Press; Paris, London, NY; 1994


    There is also a movie she might want to acquire:
    Another Man, Another Chance 1977 Genre: Drama
    Director: Claude Lelouch
    Cast: James Caan, Genevieve Bujold
    Set in America's West during the 1870s, this is the story of a widower veterinarian (James Caan) and a young French itinerant photographer widow(Genevieve Bujold) who find love the second time around.

    Hope this helps. I would love to read the result.

    John

  10. #10

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    Re: Need any info on female Itinerate photographers

    In Europe the cartes de visite craze created a respectable career for young, unmarried middle class women - one of the very few which gave them independent economic power, unlike, say, becoming a governess.

    Frank's wrong, the hardcore feminists haven't paid these women much attention - mostly because they reciprocally antagonise the normative hermaneutics of gendered discourse. Regular historians with the eye for a good story have however documented their activities, and a search on 'Cartes de Visite' will turn up any number of local history sites and books with women portrait photographers.

    Here's one for my town, Lina Jonn, who hit the mother lode with a portrait of the Swedish king, and who did in fact start adult life as a governess and use photography as a way of breaking free and running her own life:


    And a random one from the first page I got on google:


    However, these women were not itinerant, although the famous ones like Lina Jonn did travel to make portraits on commission. Part of the social acceptability of their position was that they had a 'proper' studio and were engaged in an artistic pursuit: think genteel silhouette or pen-and-ink portraits but on a scale sufficient to earn a good living. That said, for a novel it would be easy enough to bend history a tad, especially a novel set in the American West, where itinerant photographers in general were much more prevalent.

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