This cabinet card portrait features two young African American children sharing a large chair while posing at a photography studio in Denver, Colorado. The Beebe studio was located on Arapahoe Street within the mile high city. The children are adorable. They are looking at the photographer with bright and wide open eyes. One wonders how the youngest child is being held into the chair. Perhaps there is a brace attached to seat so that the baby doesn’t get injured due to falling or sliding onto the floor. In many cabinet card photographs of children this youngster’s age, there is a hidden parent under some fabric holding the child in place. Good quality photographs of African American subjects are not easy to find. Discrimination and economic factors are among the principal causes of their relative rarity. The photographer of this cabinet card portrait is John E. Beebe. Denver city directories indicate that he operated his studio between 1887 and at least 1894. Langdonroad.com, a historical photographer directory, reports that before his arrival in Denver, Beebe was a photographer in Chicago, Illinois.
This vintage photograph found it’s way into the Cabinet Card Gallery on merit. The image features a beautiful African American woman with incredibly soulful eyes. She is well dressed in her winter coat and hat. The photograph measures about 3″ x 4.75″. The photo is likely trimmed but does not appear so.
This vintage photograph features an African American man and woman. The pair dressed up in their fanciest clothing to pose for this portrait. The man is wearing a plaid suit and a vest. The couple may be husband and wife though the man looks significantly older than the woman. The woman has her left hand on the man’s shoulder in a display of affection. The subjects of this photograph as well as the photographer are unidentified.This photograph measures about 4″x 5″.
This vintage photograph features a pretty young African American woman posing for her portrait at the Kuhn studio in Brunswick, Maine. The woman is wearing a couple of pieces of jewelry. She has a collar pin which has a photograph of a young white woman. On wonders if the photo is of someone that the subject knows or if it is just a beautiful model. The woman in this photograph is also wearing what appears to be a pocket watch. The timepiece is hanging from her blouse exposed between the lapels of her jacket. The woman has a nice smile and expressive eyes. An inscription on the reverse of this image indicates that the subject’s name is Nora.
This photograph is emotionally moving and it elicits a story that we tell ourselves. Most people will likely see it as a story about a grandmother and her grandchildren. Grandma has a tight loving grasp around the waist of her youngest granddaughter while the older granddaughter clings to grandma’s shoulder for security. This is a portrait of a tight knit family. The little girls are adorable. They are wearing bows in their hair; and both girls are wearing necklaces. It is difficult to tell for sure, but grandma seems to be containing a smile. The girls however, seem a bit bewildered by their experience of being photographed. Grandma was not living in easy times. At the time of this photograph, slavery had already ended but prejudice and discrimination was prevalent. There is dearth of early photographs of African American individuals and families. This image certainly serves a role in representing African American history. Unfortunately, the photographer and subjects of this image are unidentified.
A well dressed African American man poses for his portrait at the J. A. Pfeifer & Company gallery. He is wearing a dress jacket, a pin striped vest, winged collar and bow tie. This handsome young man is unidentified. The reverse of the cabinet card lists Pfeifer’s name but also the names Smith and Mulligan Brothers. Presumably these three names belong to photographers who were employed the the Pfeifer studio. The address of the gallery is also printed on the reverse of the card. The business was located at 262, 264, and 266 South High Street in Columbus, Ohio. According to the book “Artists in Ohio” (2000), the photographer of this image, John A. Pfeifer (1859-1932), was active in the Columbus area from 1882 to at least 1913. During much of that time, he was partners with George C. Urlin of the “Mammoth Art Palace” on High Street. To view images by Urlin, click on the category “Photographer: Urlin”. The Oberlin Review (1888) noted that the Urlin & Pfeifer studio won the contract to be the class of 1888’s photographer. A competitor in the bidding was the Cleveland firm of Urlin & Becker. Urlin’s participation in the bidding under two different studios, caused the students to raise some ethical questions about the bidding process. Pfeifer proved to the students that he had the legal right to use Urlin’s name and the class “was convinced of his honesty and integrity” and retained him as class photographer. In 1891 Pfeifer and George D. Saas (1854-1924) founded Pfeifer & Saas Printers. In 1905 Pfeifer became the sole owner of the firm and renamed it the Pfeifer Show Print Company.
This cabinet card portrait features a well dressed young African American man wearing wire rim glasses. He has a terrific mustache and sideburns. His name is written on the reverse of the photograph (“R. L. Woods”). The photographer is Devenport and the studio was located in Waxahachie, Texas. Perry F. Devenport is identified in the 1900 US census as being forty-three years old and living in Waxahachie with his wife Marie and their three children. He was working as a supervisor for the city water company. He is also cited in the 1920 census but by that time he was sixty-five years of age and married to a forty-four year old woman named Caudia (Candice). In the 1920 census, Perry and Caudia Devenport were both listed as photographers. Interestingly, Caudia is cited in a number of photography journals. She was on the necrology committee of the Professional Photographers Association of Texas according to the Bulletin of Photography (1917). The Photographic Journal of America (1917) announced that she had won some photography awards. To view other cabinet card photographs of African Americans, click on the category “African Americans”.
A young well dressed African American man poses for his portrait at the Moore studio in Denison, Texas. The town of Denison was founded in 1872 in conjunction with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. In 1875, famed western gambler, gunfighter, and dentist, John Henry Holliday (Doc Holliday), had offices in Denison. Doc Holliday is also known for his great friendship and shared exploits with lawman Wyatt Earp.