I haven’t posted in a while because I have been down the research “rabbit hole.” The life of a history detective is both time consuming and rewarding. The careers of many of the photographers I profile have never been fully documented. I thought I would share my research path for Charles E. Emery. A fuller post of his life will appear once I tie up a few loose ends.
A few weeks ago, a genealogist contacted me for assistance in identifying the photographer of a cabinet card made in Canon City, Colorado. I can certainly understand why she was unsure of the photographer’s last name (Emery) due to the flowery script. Having the photographer’s name allowed her to narrow down the date of her photograph to between 1885 and 1892.
After this correspondence, I thought, “Maybe I should do a post about Emery. Are there interesting photographs I could use for my blog?”
I looked at the Denver Public Library’s website and found a photograph showing the exterior of Emery’s studio. You don’t always find photographs showing photo studios, so having that photo sealed the deal–a blog post was in the works.
The cataloging notes for this image suggest that the photograph was made on Main Street, Manitou Springs, Colorado in 1884. Emery never had a studio in Manitou Springs, but he did work for decades in the neighboring community of Colorado Springs. However, that studio didn’t open until 1892.
In 1884, Emery’s studio was located in Silver Cliff, Colorado. Could I prove that this photograph was made in Silver Cliff? Emery’s Silver Cliff studio was located above Tomkins hardware store, at the corner of Main and Mill Streets. The New York Public Library owns a stereoview of Tomkins hardware store. I believe this view was made before Emery’s studio took over the second floor of the building.
The left side of the building provides clues that confirm the location as Emery’s studio. While the siding has been updated, the balustrade is the same design. Also, the attorneys sign appears in both photographs.
What else could I find out about Emery? The website cabinetcardphotographers mentioned that Charles Emery was listed in “Who’s Who in Professional Portraiture in America,” published in 1927. Only nine libraries hold this title, including the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where I worked for 30+ years. My former co-worker and now volunteer, Elisabeth Parker, offered to track down the book and scan the relevant pages. The entry for Emery provided essential information about his early life.
The blog post on Emery is still a work in progress. I need to make a trip to the Stephen H. Hart Research Center at History Colorado to fact check a couple of details. I look forward to publishing a fuller account of Emery’s life in the near future.