Filling in the Blanks — Researching Georgia Photographers

My interest in Georgia photographers and visiting photographers who worked in Georgia, as well as their associates, began in the late 1970s. Throughout my career as an archivist and librarian I built upon this interest when time allowed. When I retired, this became a full-time pursuit, and since 2013, I have worked on researching and writing about these photographers in my blog Hunting and Gathering. 

For my Georgia Photographers Documentation Project, I use many research sources, and my database now has close to 3,700 records, documenting about 2,200 photographers. One of my all-time favorite sources, the DLG’s Georgia Historic Newspapers collection allows me to search for advertisements, notices of formed or dissolved partnerships, and personal information, including obituaries on these photographers and their associates. I also find some wonderful articles about photography itself. 

The addition of so many smaller town and city newspapers to this collection of historic newspapers has proven to be great fun! In the last week alone, I turned up four more women who worked in the profession just after the turn-of-the century–Amanda Cain in north Georgia, Mrs. Clark (possibly Mrs. H.S.) in east Georgia, Mrs. W. B. Standifer in southwest Georgia, and Effie West in southeast Georgia. Mrs. Standifer set aside Wednesday and Saturday especially for her African American customers, which is not as uncommon as it sounds, and I have written and spoken on this topic. Now I will pursue these women’s names both in and out of the DLG’s Georgia Historic Newspapers collection to flesh out each record in my database which now documents over 260 women. 

The other excitement for me these past few weeks has been the exploration of the added Columbus and Macon city directories which were made available this spring via the DLG in partnership with the Georgia Public Library Service City directories are another “must-have” in my research. I already had a lot of the directory information from these two cities, but I lacked the earlier years, and that is exactly what I found in this new resource–Columbus city directories beginning in 1859, and Macon’s beginning in 1860. It took me about a week to finish that task, but I was able to find new advertisements, and add or correct work years and work addresses for photographers and their associates working in those two cities. 

I have used the resources of the Digital Library of Georgia so often the last ten years, I know I have a stake in it, and all Georgians do. The fact that all this information is available to those in and out of state for free is wonderful. In my blog posts I try to remember to thank the DLG when I use any of the excellent data that they make available to us. I look forward to the upcoming new additions! 

E. Lee Eltzroth, independent scholar,

and president / CEO, Friends of the Peachtree City Library 


3 Replies to “Filling in the Blanks — Researching Georgia Photographers”

  1. Thanks, Lee, for the update on your research about Georgia’s early photographers! Hope you can continue to add more to your database! Love using the advertisements in the Georgia Historic Newspapers to learn more about life in a small community!

  2. Hi, Frances! Thank you for your lovely comment. We have also contacted you by email.

  3. It sounds so leisurely as if you had all the words in the world to use as you please. I am so impressed. Georgia sounds like a terrific place to do photographic history research, and your efforts are so much needed, and so appreciated by THOSE WHO KNOW. I don’t know if I told you, but I have been doing a regular column called Behind the Image (not my choice of title) for Alabama Heritage, our state’s 4-color history magazine, for about three years now and having fun with it, despite the mag’s peculiar givens. I can tear-sheet the articles and send them to you if you woud like. I send mine to our sons, Andrew (senior photo conservator at the Library of Congress and Matthew chief curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Just let me know. I get the extra copies and need to do something with them. Best, Frances

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