A New AAS Illustrated Inventory: The Wohlbrück Collection

The American Antiquarian Society houses more than a thousand photographs and glass-plate negatives produced by photographer Theodore Clemens Wohlbrück (1879–1936) between 1900 and 1910. Since 2010, we have periodically highlighted different aspects of the collection on this blog, including information about Wohlbrück’s views of towns in Worcester County, his photographs of urban architecture, and a donation of negatives in 2014 from a Wohlbrück descendent.

Today, we are pleased to announce that all the negatives from the 2014 donation have been fully digitized and can be accessed via a new online resource compiled by the Society’s visual materials cataloger, Christine Graham-Ward. The resource, which is the twenty-second illustrated inventory to be produced based on AAS collections, is built on the Omeka platform and allows users to search the photographs by a variety of subjects.  

T. C. Wohlbrück moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, from New Jersey in 1900 and started his career as a photographer when he was twenty-two years old. He specialized in landscape and city views that were often turned into postcards. He opened a modest photo studio on Main Street and married a local girl in 1902.

The new resource includes studio photographs made by Wohlbrück of his family and friends, including many portraits of his first wife, Mabel Brown Wohlbrück Penneton (1879–1960), and their three young children, Virginia Wohlbrück Willard (1903–1994), Gretchen Wohlbrück Bath (1904–1995), and Theodore C. Wohlbrück Jr. (1906–1985). Wohlbrück also took photographs documenting the construction of the family’s home in North Worcester and recorded a family trip to Virginia.

Examined as a group, the digital files of the negatives show the work of a young photographer finding his way technically (some are out of focus, poorly framed, or double exposed) and should be considered a prelude to the later professionally produced glass negatives and photographic prints by T. C. Wohlbrück already preserved at AAS and the artist’s Western work produced after he left Worcester for Nevada and California in 1910 .

“Double Portrait of a Woman,” Wohlbrück Collection, c. 1905-1910.

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