Old Photos

Mrs. Willis and Son Photographers

A great photo of this husband and wife, if not quite as well made as some.  You can see the jewelry of the wife and her black lace collar.  One feature that dates this photo to around 1887 is the geometric line below the photo and above the studio imprint.  Also, the gentleman’s jacket buttoned at the very top.

Another interesting fact is the photographer who took this was a woman.  There were quite a few women photographers in the late 1800’s.  Many started helping their husband’s or father’s with photography and ended up being one!

This photo was taken by Ella Willis, or possibly one of her sons, Nathaniel Parker Willis or Lewis Willis.  The father and husband, Abner Delmar Willis, was a photographer in Crawford, Illinois, from 1866 through 1892, when age forced him to give up his work.  At that time the studio continued as Mrs. Willis and Son, as listed at the bottom of this photo.

But twenty years before that date, she was making photographs of her own – with her cards listing Ella Willis Art Studio, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Perhaps she was on a level with her husband?  His cards read, A. D. Willis, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Such a modern woman – with a husband that appreciated her talent!

Son Parker Willis had his name on cards – possibly after his mother retired – or before!  A family of photographers.

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