Photo of the Week: Self Portrait

Untitled, January 11, 1899, 2010.023.30; 141 Quincy Street photograph album, 2010.023; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Untitled, January 11, 1899, 2010.023.30; 141 Quincy Street photograph album, 2010.023; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This charming photograph comes from a photo album discovered and donated to the Brooklyn Historical Society by the current owner of 141 Quincy Street.  The album contains interior photographs of the home, this young lady’s family members including a sister, both parents, and a baby, in addition to a parade and a few outings.  141 Quincy Street is located between Bedford and Franklin Avenues in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.  The house was built around the turn of the century in what was at that time a middle-class neighborhood of German immigrants.  Legend has it that the sisters lived in the house their entire lives.  When they died, the house was auctioned off, but the person who bought it lived there only a short while.  The current owner and donor of this album intends on staying in the house for a while and is enjoying the original details throughout the house: floor to ceiling mirrors, some of the original furniture, the multiple fireplaces, and the beautiful light fixtures.

I love looking at this picture and imagining this young woman experiencing the changes of Brooklyn from the late 19th century well into the 20th century.  I also like that her self-portrait includes her camera.  This looks like an early roll film camera with bellows and a fixed lens.  It was at this time that Kodak started making Brownies available to the masses, but this camera looks a bit more complicated indicating a more involved interest in photography.  Want to see a similar camera?  BHS has several cameras on exhibit that trace the technological progress of photography and its cameras in our 3rd floor gallery where Say Cheese: Portraits to Pics is on view.

Interested in seeing more photographs from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery which includes a selection of our images.  To search our entire collection of images, visit BHS Othmer Library Wed-Fri 1:00-5:00 p.m.

About Julie May

I am the Head of Collection Management at Brooklyn Historical Society.
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