This 1879 portrait of William O. and Wallace L. Goodridge is perhaps the most famous of all Goodridge Brothers Studio images. Taken in their studio at 220 South Washington Avenue, the late Dr. John V. Jezierski in his book, Enterprising Images: The Goodridge Brother’s African American Photographers 1847 -1922, explored the process they used to take this self-portrait:
“Ironically, this best-known of all Goodridge Brothers images may not have been made either by Wallace or by William. Certainly the brothers organized the shot and chose the props and accessories carefully, but exactly who controlled the exposure by using the lens cap or working the manual drop shutter on the camera (an effective between-the-lens or focal plane shutter that would have allowed a mechanical release did not become available until the 1880s) is not clear. It may have been either of the Goodridge assistants, James H, Morris or Arthur William Brown, who were working in the studio by 1880.”
From The Goodridge Brother’s African American Photographers 1847 -1922, p. 132
Jezierski identified the subject of the portrait located in the lower left side of the image. It is of famed American actress Effie Ellsler - she had appeared at the Academy of Music earlier in the year. However, the name of the photogenic Dalmatian is unknown.
We look forward to continuing to explore Saginaw County’s history with you in 2021.
For more information about the Goodridge Brothers: https://www.castlemuseum.org/goodridge-brothers-art-souvenir