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Southworth & Hawes Records

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Repository: Richard and Ronay Menschel Library, George Eastman Museum
Creator: Hawes, Josiah Johnson, 1808-1901
Creator: Southworth, Albert Sands, 1811-1894
Source - col: Boyer, Alden Scott, 1887-1953
Title: Southworth & Hawes records
ID: RRML.SC0025
Date [inclusive]: 1840-1946, undated
Physical Description: 5 Linear Feet 8 boxes
Language of the Material: English

Abstract: This collection consists of material related to the daguerreotype studio of Southworth & Hawes, although it also includes some material from the business prior to J. J. Hawes becoming a partner, and after Southworth left the business in 1861. The records date between 1840 and 1946, with the bulk of the material dating from 1840 to the 1860s, and include financial and legal records, correspondence, ephemera, clippings, and records related to the 1934 exhibition and sale of Southworth & Hawes daguerreotypes.

Scope & Contents: The Southworth & Hawes collection is one of the most extensive surviving records of an early American photographic business. The collection not only illustrates the history of the Southworth & Hawes daguerreotype business, it also provides valuable insight into 19th-century business practices and daily life. The firm's location in Boston, a large commercial hub, combined with Albert Sands Southworth's and Josiah Johnson Hawes's scientific, technical, and artistic expertise, put them at the center of the fledgling daguerreotype industry. The papers offer an unusually detailed picture of the multifaceted nature of the photographic business during this period.

The collection includes biographical materials, legal documents, correspondence, financial documents, writings, ephemera, and memorabilia, although business correspondence and financial documents, including receipts, account statements, ledgers, and tax records, make up the core of the collection.

Records defined as "business" are those that document the various activities of the firm: the day-to- day operation of the studio, the sale and distribution of photographic supplies, the manufacturing of cameras and coating boxes, the continuous experimentation undertaken by Southworth and Hawes and the consequent technical developments and inventions, and instruction in the daguerreotype process. The business papers span the entire period, from 1840 to 1901, including all four successive companies. However, the bulk of material offering the most detailed record dates from 1840 to the 1860s. The ledger recording daily business transactions from 1859 to 1900 provides the most thorough look at Hawes's activities during this later period.

Individual ledgers contain unrelated sections of information from different time periods. For each one, the various sections of financial data, with dates and additional information when known, have been described in the order they appear in the ledger. The sitters books date from after Southworth’s departure in 1851, and relate to Hawes’s later work.


Creation of this finding aid was made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant #MA-30-15-0019-15.