The effect of “lady photographer”, part 2 of 4



1915 Iva M Roach ad Lady Photographer

Bloomington Evening World 1915-11-23, p.1. Credit:

Isn’t it great that Bloomington, Indiana has a lady photographer?

Last time we saw the testimonial by Mrs. F.G. Harris for Peplac. The detailed description of her in that ad is similar to descriptions of lady photographers elsewhere, like the one in the puff piece about Iva M. Roach above. She is “highly recommended” having had studios in various locations (which may or may not be true), as well as other professional and artistic experience. (Iva Roach was quite a fascinating character, and I highly recommended Lee’s podcast episode about her.) These kinds of descriptions are fairly common, and they are recognizable as a type even today. Here’s another one several years earlier for Juno B. Shane in Lawrence, Kansas


1904 notice about Juno B Shane, lady photographer

The Jeffersonian Gazette 1904-09-27, p. 9. Credit:

As the article says, “it is natural to expect there to be lady photographers.”  (Juno B. Shane was part of a family of photographers, and her father was one of the first photographers in Lawrence. Her mother and brother were both involved in the family business, which Juno took over along with her husband. Juno’s sister Myrtle studied photography at the same school as Juno did, but never worked as a photographer. Myrtle has her own very interesting story as well. As before, go check out Lee’s podcast episode about the Shanes.)

In addition to these very positive profiles of women photographers, there are many mentions of lady photographers doing their work. This one of Olive Coffman of Lacon, Illinois is more detailed than most:

Article about Olive Coffman lady photographer

Bureau County Tribune 1905-10-20, p. 6. Credit:

The description of Miss Coffman as “Lacon’s lady photographer” is fairly typical in associating her with the town. (This is true of male photographers as well.)

There are also a variety of articles about nationally prominent women photographers, like this one about Jessie Tarbox Beals with some great photos of her at work, and this one about how a “snapshot” (which was just a non-studio photograph) by Frances Benjamin Johnston of President McKinley was used as the basis for a statue of him after he was assassinated.  Both of those articles use the phrase lady photographer.

Not all of these articles about lady photographers mention the name of the photographer, for example this article from Pratt, Kansas:


Notice of lady photographer from McPherson, Kansas

The Pratt Republican 1895-08-22, p. 1.  Credit:


From our research, it seems highly likely that this lady photographer is Rosa Vreeland, one of our favorite EWAPs. Again, go check out Lee’s podcast episode about “the extraordinary Mrs. Vreeland.” (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

Finally, for this post, there are other news stories where lady photographer is a descriptor of the person in a non-work context, like this one from Newman, California, about Clara Smith Howell who is visiting town.

Lady photographer Mrs Howell visiting

The West Side Index 1923-07-31, p. 1. Credit:

I’ll finish this post with an example of a genre, the social notice, which is particularly helpful in our research for getting an idea of the lives of these EWAPs. Newspapers for a long time have had short notices of the comings and goings of local people. In cities, these notices tend to be of the “high society” or notable figures, like politicians and celebrities. However, in smaller towns, lots of “regular folks” would be in the social notices, chronicling their comings and goings and their activities in organizations and outings. This social notice is about Florence Durkee in Frankfort, Kansas.

Florence Durkee our popular lady photographer

Marshall County News 1905-05-12, p. 4. Credit:

Miss Durkee is “our popular lady photographer,” again associated with the town, as we saw with Olive Coffman above, but perhaps a bit more personal: our lady photographer. Florence Durkee was in business in Frankfort for several years with her cousin Annie Farrar, but she got her start in Blue Rapids, which had a number of EWAPs, some of which you can find out more about in two episodes of Lee’s podcast. Back in Frankfort, Miss Durkee, is popular, and how much more positive can you get than that as a lady photographer?

In the next post in this series, we’ll range a bit further afield in looking at the effect of lady photographer.