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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Detroit Publishing Company Collection

Detroit Publishing Company, photographer. Typewriting department, National Cash Register, Dayton, Ohio. 1902? Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Images in the Detroit Publishing Company Collection (25,000 negatives, 20,000 photographic prints, 2,900 transparencies, 1880s-1930) offer insight into the commerce in images at a scale of production completely different from that of the individual studio or commercial photographer.

Launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by two Detroit businessmen, William A. Livingstone Jr. and Edwin H. Husher, the Detroit Publishing Company purchased the negatives of a number of photographers. Its success, however, was in large part determined by the participation of accomplished American landscape photographer William Henry Jackson, who joined the firm in 1897.

Catalogs published by the company, found in the division's reference collection, provide documentation regarding the images and formats the firm offered to the public and the prices originally charged for them. The collection emphasizes the types of scenes consumers might have wished to frame and hang on their walls or to send to friends as postcards. It provides valuable clues to popular art works of the day that featured women, as well as to sites familiar to women of the leisure class.

Besides marketing images to individual consumers, it appears that the company photographed industrial plants and commercial firms, such as the National Cash Register Company and the advertising firm of the Whitney Warner Publishing Company, for corporate use. These images reflect the increasing presence of women in offices and manufacturing plants at the turn of the twentieth century.

Searching the Collection

Catalog records for the Detroit Publishing Company negatives, transparencies and color photomechical prints (photochroms) can be searched online, where the collection has its own listing for negatives and transparencies (a separate listing for Photochrom prints includes images employing the photochrom process by the Detroit Publishing Companies and by other producers).

Groups of photographic prints produced by the Detroit Publishing Company have been organized into LOTs that can be searched online in the Groups of Images category. On-site researchers can submit call slips to view photographic prints in the LOTs.

Sample Images