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HomeContentsThemes > Occupations and roles


979.01   Introduction to occupationals
Occupationals using different techiques
979.02   Daguerreotypes: Occupations and roles
979.03   Carte de visites: Occupations and roles
979.04   William Carrick: Russian occupationals
979.05   J. Monstein: Russian types
979.06   Tintypes: Occupationals
979.07   Cabinet cards: Occupations and roles
Case studies of specific occupations
979.08   Turkey: Porters
979.09   Street vendors
979.10   Bootblacks and shoeshines
979.11   Water carriers
979.12   Samurai
979.13   Geishas
979.14   Courtesans
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
979.01   Portrait >  Introduction to occupationals 
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A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh, included the rhyme "Cherry Stones"[1] in his collection Now We are Six, (1927):
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief,
Or what about a cowboy, policeman, jailer, engine driver, or a pirate chief?
Or what about a ploughman or a keeper at the zoo,
Or what about a circus man who lets the people through?
Or the man who takes the pennies on the roundabouts and swings,
Or the man who plays the organ or the other man who sings?
Or what about the rabbit man with rabbits in his pockets
And what about a rocket man who's always making rockets?
Oh it's such a lot of things there are and such a lot to be
That there's always lots of cherries on my little cherry tree.[2]
Every occupation has its own photographic history and these visually rich stories reflect the prevailing photographic styles and the techniques and processes of the time they were taken. Comprehensive studies of the occupational types of a country or region are rare and the work of John Thomson for Street Life in London[3] (1877) and August Sander[4] in Germany in the 1920s and 30s are an often-cited examples.  
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John Thomson: Street Life in London (1877) 
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August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century 
Those not wearing their leisure clothing are usually wearing the clothing of their occupation but this does not mean that any picture of an adult is collectable. The key is where the clothing is a uniform, for example military, firemen, sailors or has characteristics that only apply a specific occupation or the subject of the image is shown with items of their trade. A bricklayer with bricks and a hod has more evidence than a person standing in dust covered clothing. A politician is difficult to tell from an author or a spy unless there is additional evidence.  
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Daguerreotype occupationals 
As photography spread around the world during the nineteenth century it went along with the growth of European empires, foreign trade and travel. As the barriers to travel reduced so the need for souvenirs rose along with anthropologists and ethnographers seeking photographic records on their subjects of interest. Scientists collected photographs and local photographers recognised these markets and provided sets of images of "types" (Spanish - Tipos) showing characteristic occupations. Photographers such as Christiano Júnior in Brazil, François Aubert and Merille in Mexico created tipos long before August Sander in Germany.  
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Many nineteenth century occupationals were taken in photographic studios rather than the natural working environment of those photographed. They are fabrications of reality. If we look at a number of photographs of porters in Turkey we can see studio props, painted backgrounds and studio walls.  
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Studio portraits of Turkish porters 
Occupationals using different techiques 
979.02   Portrait >  Daguerreotypes: Occupations and roles 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 36 slides to load.) 
Occupational daguerreotypes of women are far less common than those of men and this may be a reflection of gender-based attitudes to work in the nineteenth century.[5] An interesting exception to this are the illustrations based on daguerreotypes by Richard Beard published in Henry Mayhew's book London Labour and the London Poor (1861).[6]  
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Richard Beard: Illustrations for "London Labour and London Poor" (1861) 
There are portraits of women in entertainment such as Jenny Lind but other occupationals are rare indeed.  
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Women in entertainment and the arts 
The rarity of women's roles on daguerreotypes may reflect that they would be largely purchased by the upper classes where most women would not be working other than in the home.[7] This is obviously simplistic as many women needed to work. Joseph T. Zealy was a daguerreotypist and photographer in South Carolina who took a number of daguerreotypes of slaves for Dr. Robert Wilson Gibbes who was having them taken for Louis Agassiz.[8][9] The portraits here of Drana and Delia were a part of the "documentation of species" and human types, as is shown by the frontal and profile poses, rather than an investigation of female roles in society.  
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Women as slaves 
With portraits where an African-American women is shown with white children there is the assumption that she is a nanny. We have no way visually of telling if she was a slave or a free woman. If the women with children is white she is assumed to be the mother or possibly a family member - we would rarely guess at nanny or governess even though she may well have been. Our preconceptions of roles affect the way images are captioned and this re-enforces our preconceptions.  
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Possibly nannies 
   Daguerreotypes Occupational 
View exhibition 
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979.03   Portrait >  Carte de visites: Occupations and roles 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 24 slides to load.) 
One of the most interesting areas of collecting is that of occupationals and that is because of the personal associations of collectors but also the range of portraits available. Divers, gondoliers, wheelwrights, firemen and traditional healers are all recorded. In each portrait the profession of the person can be determined by clothing, tools or less frequently by the setting. Most occupationals, but far from all, were taken within a photographer's studio with occasionally bizarre results for example in Frederick I. Meryman, Bay State Submarine and Wrecking Co., Boston, Mass. a fully clad deep-sea diver stands on a decorative flooring with a clearly visible skirting board. In another The Seven Heads of the Greek Brigands the decapitated heads are displayed hanging by their hair from a wall. 
   Carte de visite Occupational 
View exhibition 
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979.04   Portrait >  William Carrick: Russian occupationals 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 40 slides to load.) 
William Carrick was a Scottish-born photographer whose family were in the Russian timber business. In 1857 he studied photography in Edinburgh with James Good Tunny and then returned to St. Petersburg where he set up a studio with John MacGregor.[10] Carrick, like J. Monstein, made and extensive series of carte de visite occupational portraits of Russian types.
An illustration A Few Russian Photographs, published in Good Words on 1st October 1870, used photographs by William Carrick as we can see from surviving carte de visites.[11]  
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979.05   Portrait >  J. Monstein: Russian types 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Little is known of J. Monstein of Moscow. His name suggests that he might have been German, and indeed, all the inscriptions pencilled on the back of his carte de visites – at least, the ones in this collection - are written in German, in the Gothic alphabet then still in use. 
979.06   Portrait >  Tintypes: Occupationals 
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As with all other periods occupational portraits were a common theme for tintypes. [12] Tintypes were also used for buttons of politicians including Abraham Lincoln[13] and General Grant.[14] 
979.07   Portrait >  Cabinet cards: Occupations and roles 
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Case studies of specific occupations 
979.08   Portrait >  Turkey: Porters 
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979.09   Portrait >  Street vendors 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 16 slides to load.) 
979.10   Portrait >  Bootblacks and shoeshines 
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979.11   Portrait >  Water carriers 
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Within a single class of occupationals regional and gender differences are frequently clear. Within the photographs of water carriers there are the commercial water carriers of North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent where in men have their goat-skin bags for commercial sale and women have smaller metal or pottery pots for domestic use. 
979.12   Portrait >  Samurai 
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In history, literaure, art, folkore and religion the Samurai have been a core component of Japanese culture.[15] Photographs of the Samurai by foreign photographers resident in Japan such as Felice Beato, Baron Raimund von Stillfried and Adolfo Farsari along with those by Japanese photographers such as Kusakabe Kimbei recorded the armour and weapons at a time when Japanese society was undergoing the immense changes of Meiji Restoration of 1868.[16] Effectively the Meiji Restoration broke the power of the SamuraI class by taxing their stipends, removing their rights to carry weapons and allowing lower class peasants into a reformed military with nationwide conscription. The loss of financial stability and status within the Samurai class led to rebellion and upheaval. Speaking of Tosa in 1877 one contemporary account states:
Last month the photograph of the Emperor was exhibited to the people in the public garden. The samurai availed themselves of the occasion to create a row by throwing stones at the troops of the garrison, and causing a fight which was only quelled by the intervention of the members of the Tokio police stationed at Kfichi.[17]
Photographs of Samurai are therefore important as historical documents but also they are reminders of nationalistic pride. 
979.13   Portrait >  Geishas 
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Geisha are female entertainers in Japan normally highly skilled in classical dance and dance, storytelling and games. Although there are exceptions there is a distinction between geishas and cortesans or prostitutes. Seen as a novelty in the nineteenth century and with a sense of the exotic geisha were widely photographed.[18]
The first-class or "number one" geisha, as they are called in the vernacular, are only a little less seldom seen by the " globe-trotting" foreigner than the lady of aristocratic lineage, for the charges for their services are very high, and they do not care to lower their standing by being hired in a chance way by ordinary foreigners or common Japanese. Their services are frequently arranged for weeks in advance, so that money alone cannot always command their presence.

A "number one" geisha must be cultivated and well read besides being able to dance and sing. Gentlemen who are giving dinner-parties or entertaining guests engage two or three or more geisha to come and amuse the company. They sing, dance, and talk, play various little games with their hands and fingers, and tell stories—anything, in fact, which seems to interest and amuse their patrons. [19]
979.14   Portrait >  Courtesans 
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The "Oiran" were the courtesans of Japan and have a long history.[20] Merriam-Webster defines a courtesan as "a woman who has sex with rich or important men in exchange for money: a prostitute who has sex with wealthy and powerful men". This raises the question of who applied the captions to the photographs and what proof is there that the people depicted were courtesans? Were there any clues in the clothing, adornment, hairstyles or make-up that would prove the women depicted were courtesans?[21] In one book it points out how they can be recognised:
The Eastern courtesan is confined to a certain quarter of the town, and distinguished by a peculiarly gaudy costume, and by a headdress which consists of a forest of light tortoiseshell hair-pins, stuck round her head like a saint’s glory—a glory of shame which a modest woman would sooner die than wear.[22]
There were other characteristics such as the way her obi was tied into a bow that distinguished her from other women.[23] 

  1. Λ The rhyme which was based on an early counting game "Tinker, Tailor" which has a long history with many variants.
    Tinker, Tailor - Wikipedia<
    (Accessed: 22 May 2014),_Tailor 
  2. Λ A. A. Milne, 1927, Now We are Six, (London: E. P. Dutton & Company), pp. 19-21 
  3. Λ John Thomson & Adolphe Smith, [1877], Street Life in London, (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington); Reprint - John Thomson & Adolphe Smith, 1969, Street Life in London, (New York: Bernard Blom) [Facsimile edition].
    For the context - Jeff Rosen, 1993, ‘Posed as Rogues: The Crisis of Photographic Realism in John Thomson's Street Life in London‘, Image, vol. 36, no. 3/4, pp. 9-39; Emily Kathryn Morgan, 2014, Street Life in London: Context and Commentary, (MuseumsEtc) 
  4. Λ August Sander, 1929, Antlitz der Zeit, (Munich: Transmare and Kurt Wolff); August Sander, 1986, August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century: Portrait Photographs 1892–1952, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) [Edited by Gunther Sander]; August Sander, 1980, August Sander: Photographs of an Epoch. 1904–1959, (Millerton, NY: Aperture) [Preface by Beaumont Newhall; historical commentary by Robert Kramer]; Manfred Heiting (ed.), 1999, August Sander 1876–1964, (New York: Taschen) 
  5. Λ Further examples of daguerreotype occupationals, especially of women and children, are requested - 
  6. Λ Henry Mayhew, 1861, London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1, (London: Griffin, Bohn, and Company, 1861). The location of the original daguerreotypes by Richard Beard is not known and if you have any information on the missing plate I'd be grateful - 
  7. Λ I'd be most interested in locating any daguerreotype occupational portraits of women - 
  8. Λ For a biography on Louis Agassiz - Christoph Irmscher, 2013, Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
    For the daguerreotypes of slaves that were taken for him - Elinor Reichlin, 1977, Summer, ‘Faces of Slavery‘, American Heritage, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 4-11; Brian Wallis, 1995, Summer, ‘Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz's Slave Daguerreotypes‘, American Art, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 38-61  
  9. Λ A number of the Joseph T. Zealy daguerreotypes of Renty, Drana and Delia are in the collections at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 
  10. Λ Felicity Ashbee, 1978, ‘William Carrick: A Scots Photographer in St. Petersburg (1827-1878)‘, History of Photography, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 207-222 
  11. Λ W.R.S. Ralston, 1 October 1870, "A Few Russian Photographs", Good Words, pp. 667-673. Includes an interested article on the subject. 
  12. Λ Michael L. Carlebach, 2002, Working Stiffs: Occupational Portraits in the Age of Tintypes, (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press) 
  13. Λ Examples of political buttons for Abraham Lincoln include: Boston Public Library, Print Department, File name: 07_05_000039; one by Anthony Berger, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19441; and one by Mathew B. Brady, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division , Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19442 
  14. Λ A campaign tintype button of General Grant for the 1868 Presidential election is at: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Ambrotype/Tintype filing series (Library of Congress) (DLC) 2010650518 Liljenquist Family collection (Library of Congress) (DLC) 2010650519 
  15. Λ Stephen Turnbull, 2004, Samurai: The Story of Japan's Great Warrior, (PRC Publishing), Mitsuo Kure, 2002 , Samurai: An Illustrated History, (Tuttle Publishing) 
  16. Λ The Meiji Restoration restored Imperial rule to Japan removing the powers of the Shoguns.
    W. Beasley, 1972, The Meiji Restoration, (Stanford University Press), Marius B. Jansen, 2002, The Making of Modern Japan, (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) 
  17. Λ Dec. 22, 1877, The Japan Weekly Mail, p. 1155 
  18. Λ Stanley B. Burns & Elizabeth A. Burns, 2006, Geisha: A Photographic History, 1872–1912, (Brooklyn, N.Y.: powerHouse Books) 
  19. Λ Helen Gregory-Flesher, 1893, "The Professional Beauties of Japan", The Californian, vol. IV, no. 5, p. 643-660 
  20. Λ Cecilia Segawa Seigle, 1993, Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan, (University of Hawaii Press) 
  21. Λ If you have information on how the clothing, adornment, hairstyles or make-up of a nineteenth century woman in Japan would show she was a courtesan I'd be interested - 
  22. Λ A.B. Mitford, 1871, Tales of Old Japan, (Macmillan), vol. 1, p. 59 
  23. Λ Henry Norman, 1893, The Real Japan: Studies of Contemporary Japanese Manners, Morals, Administration, and Politics, (T.F. Unwin), p. 292


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Rosen, Steve, 2011, I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955, (Dust-To-Digital) isbn-10: 0981734243 isbn-13: 978-0981734248 [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Jill Freedman 
Freedman, Jill, 1977, Circus Days, (Crown Publishing) isbn-10: 0517520087 isbn-13: 978-0517520086 [Δ
Freedman, Jill, 1979, Firehouse, (Doubleday) isbn-10: 0385115857 isbn-13: 978-0385115858 [Δ
Freedman, Jill, 1981, Street Cops, (HarperCollins) isbn-10: 0060148748 isbn-13: 978-0060148744 [Δ
Lewis W. Hine 
Hine, Lewis W., 1932, Men at Work, (New York: The Macmillan Company) [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Richard Beard  (1802-1885) • William Carrick  (1827-1878) • Lewis W. Hine  (1874-1940) • Erna Lendvai-Dircksen  (1883-1962) • J. Monstein • August Sander  (1876-1964) • Waldemar Franz Herman Titzenthaler  (1869-1937)
HomeThemesPortrait > Occupations and roles 
A wider gazeA closer lookRelated topics 
Characters and occupational types 

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Occupations and roles

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailDaguerreotypes: Occupationals 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (September 2, 2006)

HomeVisual indexes > Occupations and roles

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailA. Aubrey Bodine: Five Fireman 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAlice Austen: Street Types of New York (1896) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailCalvert Richard Jones: Capuchin Friars, Valetta, Malta (1846) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailJ. Kurtz: Signpainting for J. Kurtz, Photographer 
ThumbnailJ.Z. Foulk: Background painter 
ThumbnailJacob August Riis: Newsboys 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailUnidentified daguerreotypist: Locomotive engine (no. 15), cars and two men (ca. 1850) 
ThumbnailWaldemar Franz Herman Titzenthaler: Types of German Workers 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAmbassadors, delegates and commissioners 
ThumbnailBanner girls and ladies 
ThumbnailBarbers and hairdressers 
ThumbnailBoiler makers 
ThumbnailBootblacks and shoeshines 
ThumbnailChimney sweeps 
ThumbnailCircus performers and workers 
ThumbnailConstruction workers and handymen 
ThumbnailDoctors and medical officers 
ThumbnailDruggists and pharmacists 
ThumbnailEditors and the press 
ThumbnailEducators - teachers, lecturers, professors 
ThumbnailFishermen and women 
ThumbnailFortune tellers 
ThumbnailGrinders, knife and blade sharpeners 
ThumbnailMetal workers 
ThumbnailMilkmen, milkmaids and dairy boys 
ThumbnailNews vendors 
ThumbnailOpera singers 
ThumbnailOrgan grinders 
ThumbnailPostmen and mail carriers 
ThumbnailPriests, monks, bishops, pilgrims, missionaries, penitents and holy men 
ThumbnailSnake charmers 
ThumbnailStreet vendors, pedlars and services 
ThumbnailTailors, milliners, seamstresses 
ThumbnailTelegraph and telephone-related 
ThumbnailTight rope walkers 
ThumbnailWater carriers 
ThumbnailAlbumen prints: Themes: Occupationals 
ThumbnailAmbrotypes: Themes: Occupationals 
ThumbnailCabinet cards: Themes: Occupationals 
ThumbnailCabinet cards: Themes: Portrait: Actors 
ThumbnailCabinet cards: Themes: Portrait: Celebrities 
ThumbnailCabinet cards: Themes: Portrait: Royalty 
ThumbnailCarte de visites: Themes: Occupationals 
ThumbnailDaguerreotypes: Themes: Occupationals 
ThumbnailSalt prints: Themes: Occupationals 
ThumbnailTintypes: Themes: Occupationals 
   Still thinking about these... 
ThumbnailButcher with Rabbits 
ThumbnailCamel dealers 
ThumbnailPortraits of a French policeman 
Refreshed: 20 January 2015, 01:21
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