Eastman Company introduced the Kodak box camera and roll film in
1889, making photography more easily available to amateur
photographers. But some families bitten by the photography bug were
already taking pictures using glass plate negatives, most working in
the 4” x 5” or 5” x 7” format, and they continued to use these
cameras well into the early 1900s. One popular camera that filmed on
glass was the folding Rochester, introduced in 1892.
By the time Everett’s first families arrived in the early 1890s, the
most prosperous among them had cameras. They began documenting their
new Pacific Northwest adventures, taking pictures of family,
friends, their homes, their town, their vacations and special
events. When the Kodak postcard camera was introduced in 1903,
family photos were often processed as postcards and mailed to
friends and relatives.
images were frequently saved in scrapbooks which are now prized by
families, libraries and museums. They add significantly to our
understanding of daily life in years past. While professional
photographers were skilled in their trade, their subjects were
chosen by the marketplace. They took pictures of what they were paid
to shoot. Family photos tell a different story. While many are
poorly exposed and often strangely composed, the subjects they
present are often ones rarely seen in commercial views. They leave
us a glimpse of daily life and show us what these people found
important enough to document, remember and share.
begin our “Family Photos” online collection with two groups of
images scanned from 4” x 5” glass negatives, and one photo album. In
the 1980s, Everett Public Library purchased glass plate negatives
taken by an unknown photographer from antique dealer Bill Skinner.
These appear to have been taken in the first decade of the 20th
century. A second group of 4” x 5” glass negatives was given to the
library, and most likely were taken by ship’s carpenter Severin
Pettersen and/or his wife Anna. They date ca. 1900, although a few
were taken as early as the 1890s.
A small number of Pettersen 4” x 5”s are in the
Blackman Museum in Snohomish, Washington. A photo album from the
Spriestersbach family was loaned to us long enough to scan its
pages, adding to our WWI-vintage era photos.
Collections soon to be added include images from the Rudd, Metzger
and Gemmer families.
Margaret Riddle, September 1, 2006