The Kraus Family Papers: The Photographs

Posted on January 28, 2012 by

A blog post by Photo Archives Intern Ginevra Shay.

Since starting my internship at The Jewish Museum of Maryland I’ve had the pleasure of working on a number of fascinating photographic projects. My first and most long standing project is obtaining archival scans and updating the accession information on The Kraus Family Papers, specifically the photographs. The collection of photographs spans many decades, generations, and photographic mediums. The photographs range from 1860-1960 and contain albumen prints, tin-types, carte-de-vistes, cabinet cards, silver gelatin prints, and chromogenic prints.

The Kraus Family Papers were found within JMM’s collection in May 2003 without an accession number. JMM’s Archivist was able to dig up a little bit of information on The Kraus Family. From the Historical Sketch created about them we know they lived in Fell’s Point and have a partial family tree. Most of the photographs are unidentified but some have dates, names, notes and other information scrolled on the back which bring us one step closer to understanding who the Kraus’ were. Just yesterday I came across my favorite hand written notes on the back of (2003.053.273) and (2003.053.272) respectively, “Who is the fellow with you in this picture? Mother doesn’t remember him + I think he’s darn cute.” and “Who the hell are these guys?” Seriously, Mom and I want to know who these babes are!

2003.53.272

2003.53.273

Strolling through the photographic collection of The Kraus Family is nothing short of a beautiful experience. It’s easy to see that the family spent countless days enjoying one another’s company. Many photographs depict them picnicking in the park, hiking, swimming and going on adventures. Flipping through these photographs in a basement full of gray archival boxes really takes me to another place, physically I’m here but mentally its spring already and I’m lying in the grass getting some sunshine.

2003.53.112

2003.53.117

2003.53.122

2003.53.123

2003.53.203

Being the photo nerd that I am, one of the most amazing discoveries I made from going through hundreds upon hundreds of The Kraus Photographs was finding out how many photo studios existed in Baltimore at turn of the century. From my studies of Photographic History at The University of Vermont I was well aware of the photography boom around 1900 but it’s hard for me to imagine this many photo studios existing in Baltimore.

Here are a few I came across:

Ashmans at 17 W. Lexington St.

B. M. Clinedist at 218 N. Charles St.

Cummins at 106 N. Charles St.

Brachrach Bros at The S. E. Corner of Eutaw & Lexington Sts.

Clinedinst at 66 Lexington St.

J. H. Wilson at 430 E. Baltimore St.

Hughes Company at 1414 Patterson Ave

Bendann Brothers at 207 Baltimore Bro.

Imperial Art Studio at 205 W. Baltimore St. and S. W. Corner of Lexington St. & Park Ave.

Each photograph created in one of these studios has a beautiful imprint on the back:

How cool are these? Don’t you wish that Rite Aid’s 1 hr prints had the Mueller Brothers emblem imprinted on the back? I know I do. Working with The Kraus Family photographs has been a real treat. I’ve learned how to properly handle, archive, and digitize like a pro and loved every moment of it.

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