Soule Photographic Art Company photographic collection, 1880s-1890s

Collection Type

  • Photography






The Soule Photographic Art Company Photographic Collection includes over 1,000 original prints of exteriors and interiors of buildings, largely in Boston and its surrounding suburbs and summer communities. The works of major architects, such as Peabody and Stearns, Arthur Little, and Henry Hobson Richardson, are represented in the collection. There are no original negatives. The quality of detail is outstanding, as befits a firm that hired many of the city's leading documentary photographersA partial checklist with architect's index for photographs relating to buildings in Massachusetts and New Hampshire photographed by this firm. This index, which is based on only a fraction of the architectural photographs held by Historic New England, was compiled to make better known the photographs of the Soule Photograph Company, a Boston firm active from te early 1880s until the early years of the twentieth century. The 8 x 10 inch prints are technically outstanding as records of residential, commercial and public buildings, and that in many cases they possesses the advantage of being annotated with an architect's name. These annotations, presumably inscribed prior to the acquisition of the prints by Historic New England, have brought to light several commissions by Boston architects which had previously not been known. The collection is also particularly rich in interior photography, a technically demanding specialty practiced by only a few Boston professional photographers.Photographers such as Henry Peabody, E. E. Soderhltz, Newton Elwell and William T. Clark are known to have advertised as being "with" the Soule Photographic Art Company, or the Soule Photograph Company, its predecessor. In practice, however, these other photographers evidently were commissioned to carry out specific assignments, after which their negatives became the company's property. In its phase as the Soule Photograph Company in the 1880s and 1890s, the firm issued several catalogues which list photographs of "works of art,' Old Master paintings, statuary and public monuments, in addition to views of historically significant or scenic sites in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. The primary targets of this business were schools and churches, though some appeals were made to business and domestic users. Sources: Guide to the Library and Archives, 8; Soule Art Photo Company Photographic Collection finding aid.


Descriptive Terms

exterior views
interior views
buildings (structures)
works of art
summer houses (seasonal dwellings)
travel photography
black-and-white prints (photographs)

Physical Description

ca. 1,000 photographic prints : black-and-white

Finding Aid Info

Paper finding aid available in Library and Archives.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Soule Photographic Art Company photographic collection, 1880s-1890s

Date of Acquisition


Reference Code


Acquisition Type

Museum Purchase


Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)

Record Details


Soule Photograph Co. (Photographic studio)
Elwell, Newton W. (Photographer)
Clark, William T. (Photographer)
Soderholtz, E. E., Mr. (Photographer)

Material Type

black-and-white prints (photographs)

Other People

Little, Arthur, 1852-1925
Richardson, H. H. (Henry Hobson), 1838-1886
Fehmer, Carl, 1838

Other Organizations

Peabody & Stearns (Boston, Mass.)


Architectural photography

Description Level


Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

The Soule Photographic Art Company was the successor firm to John Soule, who dominated the field of stereography from the 1860s until the end of the 1870s. The company specialized in educational sales of photographs of 'works of art' and travel views. A sideline was specially commissioned photography of recently completed commercial and residential structures by Boston's leading architects active in the 1880s and 1890s.When John Soule left Boston, the business passed to his brother William, and a partner, William Everett, its name changing from the Soule Photo Company to the Soule Photograph Company. Confidential Dun and Bradstreet reports at the Baker Library, Harvard Business School, note the "enterprising" spirit of the partners, their desire to "push the business" and the fact that they were doing "considerable more than their predecessor."Sources: Guide to the Library and Archives, 8; Soule Art Photo Company Photographic Collection finding aid.

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