Social history of photography: new article

Lee and I have published our first article on early women artisan photographers!

For several years Lee and I have been researching early women artisan photographers, women who ran their own photography businesses from 1840-1930, roughly the first half of the history of photography. In our research, we concentrate on the lives and businesses of these pioneering women entrepreneurs, documenting how they get involved with photography, how they run their businesses (often on their own, sometimes with other women, sometimes with other family members), and how they succeed, or not. Unlike other work in the history of photography, we do not dwell on the technical aspects of their work, though that does play a role. Similarly, unlike other work on photography in art history, we do not dwell on the artistic aspects of their work, though sometimes it is extraordinary.

Lee has a podcast and website devoted to disseminating the stories of these women photographers: Photographs, Pistols, and Parasols. She has also given numerous public talks around the U.S. and in Germany, speaking at academic conferences, universities, and historical societies, often introducing people to this unknown aspect of the local history. In fact, as we traveled around the country a few years ago, one of the joys was sharing what we knew about the women photographers in the towns that we visited, and in turn learning stories that you can only hear from people.

For all that work, we have not had a publication, until now. I’m very pleased to announce that we have published our first article on early women photographers, on Costillia Smith of Lowell, Massachusetts:

L. Lee McIntyre and Chris Culy. 2021. “Miss C. Smith: The long career of an independent photographer from Lowell, Massachusetts” in The Journal: New England Journal of Photographic History. 179:20-39

You can get a taste of her life on Lee’s podcast/website, though in the article we go into more detail.

I’d like to thank John Felix and Ron Polito, the editors of The Journal, for all their support, encouragement, and careful attention to detail.