KATE SHIPPEN ROOSEVELT: PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY HIGH SOCIETY WOMAN BY CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPHER NAPOLEON SARONY

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It is not infrequent that a cabinet card presents an interesting mystery. This cabinet card, by celebrity photographer Napoleon Sarony of New York City, conjures  up some fascinating questions. Is the woman in this photograph a member of one of America’s most famous political families? It is likely that the pretty woman with the dreamy gaze seen in this photo is a Roosevelt. Let me tell you a little about Kate Shippen Roosevelt (1855-1925). In 1883, Kate Shippen Roosevelt (1855-1925) was married to Hilborne Roosevelt who was a world famous organ maker. He had factories in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. His company made some of the finest and largest pipe organs in the world. He designed the first electric organ and he was a first cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt. Kate was the daughter of William W. Shippen who was the president of the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company and Hoboken Ferry Company. It is not a surprise that their wedding was called by the New York Times (1883) the event of the season. An article in Town Topic Journal of  Society (1883) announces that Kate Shippen Roosevelt would be performing a monologue and that she was one of the “best amateurs” engaged in such performances. Kate was also a well known women’s suffrage critic. She called suffragettes “soapbox militants”. Hillborne Roosevelt died in 1886 at age 37. He left his widow and three year-old daughter quite wealthy and they continued to be part of high society in New York City.  I believe that that the woman in this image is Kate Shippen Roosevelt because  1) the inscription on the reverse of the image is supportive (see below), 2) Mrs. Roosevelt was a member of society and Sarony was a society photographer, and 3) My research was unsuccessful to find another celebrity sharing the name “Kate Shippen”.  Unfortunately, I could not find a photo to confirm or disconfirm that the subject of this cabinet card portrait was Mrs. Roosevelt. The bottom image is the gravestone of Kate Shippen Roosevelt which is located at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

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PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND MRS. ROOSEVELT (SOUVENIR OF VISIT- 1902)

This cabinet card features President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and first lady, Edith Roosevelt (1861-1948). Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States and served between 1901 and 1909. He was truly a remarkable man. Among the titles that could describe him are; athlete, naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, cowboy, soldier, father, cowboy, and politician. He had a wide range of interests and achievements. As president, Roosevelt was a leader of the progressive movement, was a successful “trust-buster”, created an active government conservation effort, helped develop the Panama Canal, and negotiated a settlement to the Russo-Japanese War (won the Nobel Peace Prize). He was well known for his international relations policy characterized by the slogan, “speak softly and carry a big stick”. Roosevelt’s political career included holding positions as a New York State Assemblyman, member of the Civil Service Commission, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, and Vice President under William Mckinley. Upon Mckinley’s assassination, Roosevelt became the President of the United States. Roosevelt was a busy and productive man. Despite all the aforementioned activities, he also had a military career. He led a regiment of soldiers during the Spanish American War. He helped form a unit called “The Rough Riders”. The Rough Riders included an interesting combination of soldiers, including many cowboys, and many ivy leaguers. The unit was very successful and fought valiantly during the war. Pictured alongside Roosevelt on this cabinet card is his first lady, Edith Roosevelt. She was Roosevelt’s second wife; his first wife had died. Interestingly, Edith and Teddy were childhood friends and playmates. In fact they were next door neighbors while growing up in New York City. She was best friends with Roosevelt’s sister and even attended Roosevelt’s first wedding. Edith Kermit Carow and Theodore Roosevelt had five children. The caption on this cabinet card raises some interesting questions. This cabinet card was given out, or sold, as a souvenir. What event or place used the photograph as a memento? What is the significance of the year 1902? Perhaps a visitor to this site will have some knowledge they can share to address these questions.

ADORABLE BABY IN A WASHBOWL IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

A very cute baby poses for a photographer, artistically placed in a washbowl. The baby appears inquisitive about the proceedings. Bachrach & Bro. is the studio that produced this portrait. The gallery was located in Baltimore, Maryland. Kudos for the photographer for this creative close-up image. The Bachrach studio was nationally known and is still known today. David Bachrach (1845-1921) was an American commercial photographer based in Baltimore. He made significant contributions in technical, artistic and professional advancements in the field of photography. He was a national spokesperson for photographers and published many articles and photographs in photography journals. He experimented with self toning papers and developed the first practical process of photographic printing on canvas, a precursor to photo engraving. Bachrach Inc., founded in 1910, is still headed by the Bachrach family. The company owned studios in all major east coast cities. One of Bachrach’s earliest photographs was taken on assignment to cover the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863. He photographed President Lincoln delivering what would become, a very famous speech. Bachrach’s home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He once shared the home with a celebrated relative, Gertrude Stein. Among his famous portraits are images of Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt,Mark Twain, and Alexander Graham Bell. Bachrach’s business was truly a family business. Among the relatives who were involved  in the business was a brother,  a son, and two grandsons.