Celebrate World Photography Day, August 19, 2021!

Thanks to Louis Daguerre and George Eastman

How many of you realize that August 19 is World Photography Day? The day was first observed on August 19, 2010 to commemorate the day in 1839 that the French government recognized Louis Daguerre’s patent for the daguerreotype photographic process. Although not the first individual to capture an image with the aid of a camera (that honor goes to fellow Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce in the 1820s), Daguerre is credited with developing the first commercially successful photographic process. In 1884, George Eastman of Rochester New York developed a process for creating an image on paper. In 1888, his Kodak camera allowed almost anyone to take a photo. Today, many people rely on digital photography and their smart phone to capture and preserve their memories.

An oval daguerreotype of James Buchanan with a blue background
Daguerreotype of James Buchanan, c.1850s. LancasterHistory.

Share a Favorite Photo

The purpose of World Photography Day is to encourage photographers around the world to share a favorite photo or two with families and friends or through social media using the tag #WorldPhotographyDay. What people sometimes forget about when capturing memories is that it is just as important to record as much information as you can about the photograph, the event, and the people in the image as it is to take the image. In my work here at LancasterHistory and in my own personal photo collection from my family, I often come across a photograph that contains little or no information and I only wish I could go back in time to learn more about the photograph and the occasion.

Historic image of a group of 13 men from the Lancaster Camera Club sitting on a small wooded hillside with their cameras and tripods.
Lancaster Camera Club, c. 1900. LancasterHistory.

A Panoramic Family Reunion

In honor of World Photography Day I would like to share two of my own favorite photos with a connection to my work at LancasterHistory. The first photo is a panoramic group photo of a family reunion that hangs in my home. The family in the photo is the Strubel family, my paternal grandmother’s family. The photo is marked “The Darmstaetter’s, Photo Artists. Lanc., Pa. 1928.” in the lower right corner. I can only identify five individuals in the photograph – my grandmother and grandfather and their two children (my aunt and uncle), and their cousin. My father, the youngest child in his family, was not born until 1930.

Quite by accident, I came across the same photo in the Darmstaetter Collection at LancasterHistory. While the image at LancasterHistory does not identify any specific family members, it does include some interesting differences. The original image is actually a bit longer on each side and written along the margin on the right side are the words “Strubel Clan 17.” Any help in identifying additional family members would be greatly appreciated by the author and by LancasterHistory!

Panoramic historic image of a large family reunion. Two rows of adults, third row of children seated in front. Housed in a plain wooden frame. Country setting, trees and fields in background, dated 1928
Photograph by the author.
Panoramic historic image of a large family reunion. Two rows of adults, third row of children seated in front. Marked "Strubel Clan 17" on right side of photo. Country setting, trees and fields in background, dated 1928
Strubel Clan, 1928. Darmstaetter Collection, LancasterHistory

The Darmstaetter Business

For those of you not familiar with the Darmstaetter name, the family came to prominence as one of a handful of independent commercial photography studios that operated in Lancaster during the twentieth century. Not limited to portrait photography, Darmstaetter’s photographers were called upon to photograph people at work and leisure and to document the natural and urban landscape as well as various commercial and advertising enterprises throughout the county. Although Darmstaetter’s began as a photographic studio in 1905, their business eventually grew to include a wide range of retail merchandise, including appliances, jewelry, radios and almost anything else found in a typical department store. The even held the original dealership for Johnson Outboard Motor Company. After three generations of owners, the Darmstaetter store closed in 1976. The Darmstaetter Collection came to LancasterHistory in 1977.

Historic image of the interior of the Darmstaetter store showing a boat in the foreground.
Darmstaetter’s store, Johnson Outboard Motor display, undated. Darmstaetter Collection, LancasterHistory.

Hey, That’s My House!

The second photograph I would like to share is another image that I happened across quite by accident in my work in cataloging and digitizing a vast collection of archival materials found in the Armstrong Archive of Armstrong World Industries. Since many images in the collection exist only as a negative, part of my work involves scanning the original film to produce a positive print. In an envelope dated October 1956 and labeled “Publicity – Sound Conditioning, House & Home Project,” I discovered an image of the house I grew up in! My parents purchased this house in the late 1960s and although I knew the house had been constructed in the late 1950s as one of the first homes in Manheim Township’s Landis Farms, I had no idea that it was used to showcase Armstrong building products. I can now add an address to the catalog record!

Historic image of a split level home in suburbia, October 1956.
1975 Crooked Oak Dr., Landis Farms, Manheim Township, 1956. LancasterHistory, Armstrong Archive.

I hope I have inspired some of you to share a favorite photo (old or now) or perhaps take the time to record something about the photos already in your collection—if not for yourself, then for those friends, family, curators or archivists who might come later.


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