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Photo Studio and Photographer Collections

Many photo studios and photographers have been active in the state of Indiana throughout the years of photographic history. They have captured prominent and ordinary citizens, as well as buildings, events and the changes that have occurred over time. We are lucky to have a wide array of collections from studios and independent photographers.


Martin's Photo Shop (P 0129)

In April 1984, Kenneth Martin donated 500,000 negatives and prints to the Indiana Historical Society Library. The collection documents everyday life in Vigo County from 1921 to 1975, showing fashions, modes of transportation, and civic and social events. Because the Martins followed strict technical standards, the images are still in good condition. We are slowly creating a representative online collection. The digitization of this collection is a work in progress.

Bass rail

W.H. Bass Photo Co. – Indiana Rail Transportation Images (P 0130)

This online collection's focus is the history of public transportation in Indiana, from mule-drawn streetcars and steam trains to electric buses and diesel trains. Union Station, the Traction Terminal, small-town depots and other facilities are also depicted. View full collection description. Many items in the Bass Photo Co. Collection have not been scanned.  Please e-mail visualcollections@indianahistory.org for further assistance with your research.


W.H. Bass Photo Co. – Pamela Tranfield Memorial Collection (P 0130)

This collection comprises more than 180,000 black-and-white negatives and 12,000 photographic prints. These historic pictures of Indianapolis were made between 1903 and 1971. The collection is strong in architectural images, street scenes, aerial views and transportation. The digitization of this collection is a work in progress. Many items in the Bass Photo Co. Collection have not been scanned. Please e-mail visualcollections@indianahistory.org for further assistance with your research.

Mary Lyon Taylor

Mary Lyon Taylor (P 0178, P 0281)

Taylor was influenced by photography magazines and probably by photographic exhibitions held at the nearby John Herron Art Institute. Her photography work is classified as “pictorialist” style, an artistic photographic genre characterized by its soft-focus appearance. Family and friends posed for her in her upstairs drawing room parlor. Taylor’s models, usually women and children, were posed artistically, often holding open books or flowers. For more information on Mary Lyon Taylor, please see the article Mary Lyon Taylor, Traces, Winter 1994.


O. James Fox (P 0266)

With his poems and photographs, O. James Fox poignantly depicted what he saw as he served as an eyewitness to one neighborhood in Indianapolis during the post-World War II period. Although urban renewal and an interstate belt have altered and demolished the physical structures, Fox's work bears witness to an era and a community. Collection guide.


Panoramic Photograph Images

Cirkut cameras were invented in the late 19th/early 20th centuries to enable photographers to take panoramic photographs of scenery and large groups of people. Indiana photographers were hired to take pictures of family reunions, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, military encampments, company picnics, conventions, church congregations, etc. This is a growing collection of panoramic images taken by different Indiana photographers.


Bretzman Photograph Studio (P 0338)

Charles F. Bretzman was a partner in the photo company Koehne & Bretzman of Chicago. He may have come to Indianapolis in 1900, although he does not appear in city directories as a photographer until 1902. Charles’ earliest studios were located at 142 S. Illinois St. (1902) and 22 ½ N. Pennsylvania St. (1905). He was the first official photographer for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The Bretzman family had a long professional relationship with a young local photographer named Harry E. Clark.


Cephas M. Huddleston Glass Plate Collection, ca. 1890 (P 0159)

Cephas M. Huddleston spent most of his life in Henry County. The images in the collection depict the Spiceland Community. The Hoover Block, Spiceland Academy, Spiceland Sanitarium, train depot and Stigleman Manufacturing Company are among the landmarks shown. 


Herman List Collection (P 0017)

Herman List was a cook at the National Surgical Institute in Indianapolis in the late 1890s. Photography was his hobby, and he took pictures of staff and patients at the Institute as well as pictures of his family at home. Some of the staff pictures are humorously posed.

Allen cows

J.C. Allen and Son Collection, 1926-1952 (P 0490)

John Calvin Allen began his photography business in Tippecanoe County in 1912. His son, Chester, joined him in 1929, and the company became know for their agricultural subjects and excellent photography. This collection was donated by the Center for Agricultural Science and Heritage in Indianapolis and includes images of the Indiana State Fair taken by the Allens from 1926 to 1952. All images were taken at the Indiana State Fair unless otherwise noted.


Ben Winans' Photography

Ben Winans worked as a printer in Brookville, and also mastered the art of photography. He produced approximately 3,000 glass-plate negatives from 1902 to 1916 and fortunately wrote captions and dates for them. Much of what existed in turn-of-the-century Brookville and Franklin County has been lost to “progress” and decline. But the scenes and people of these times have been captured for all time by Winans.


Emmett I. Brown Photograph Collection

In the late 1940s, Emmet I. Brown opened a photography shop at 808 Indiana Ave. in Indianapolis in the entertainment corridor of the Avenue, and he succeeded in recording images of great and near-great musicians and celebrities who visited the city. In the mid-1950s, Brown moved to Tennessee, but he returned to Indianapolis in 1956 and established a new studio at Martindale and 19th streets.

Chislett photo

John Chislett Pictorial Photographs, ca. 1900-ca. 1920

The collection is comprised of 22 pictorial photographs taken by Indiana photographer John Chislett. Made during the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the photographs are in the impressionistic and soft focus pictorialist style popular among photographers of that time. Most of the photographs appear to be Indiana landscapes. One seascape photograph is identified on the verso as being taken in Maine in 1903. It is assumed the other seascapes are in the same vicinity.


Oliver Frank Kelly Glass Plate Collection, ca. 1911-1912

Oliver Frank "Trixie" Kelly was a Methodist preacher who operated his own photographic gallery as a hobby on State Street in downtown South Whitley from the 1890s until the 1940s. As a local photographer, Kelly did most of his own work in and around South Whitley and the nearby town of Collamer in Whitley County. Views within the collection include area homes and businesses, street construction and paving, a horse show, apple picking, and portraits of local people. Of special interest are the interior photographs of a barber shop, yard goods store and chicken processing room.


Herbert Oran Henley Collection, ca. 1890-1938

Herbert Oran Henley was born June 14, 1873, in Rush County. The earliest confirmed date for any of his images in 1902, although some could be earlier. Most of the images appear to be of Henley's wife and son, family, friend and neighbors in warm gatherings. Henley also photographed many places in and around Carthage, notably churches, schools, farms, mills, stores, bridges, Main Street, the train depot and a train wreck.