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Guide to the Detroit Publishing Company Collection
ca. 1885-1905
  PR 272

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Kelly McAnnaney

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 09, 2011
Description is in English.

Historical Note

Founded in the 1890s by Edwin H. Husher and William A. Livingstone, Jr., the Detroit Photographic Company was one of the largest image publishers in the world, producing prints, postcards, lantern slides and advertisements. Obtaining the exclusive rights to the Swiss developed Photochrom process (also known as Aac), the company was able to convert black and white photographs into vivid color prints. The process, unlike hand colored images, was a photomechanical process allowing images to be mass-produced. The lithographic prints required a separate stone for each color, using four to fourteen stones per image. Guided by notes the photographers took describing each scene, the company attempted to create realistic color prints.

The Detroit Photographic Company built its image files by sending out its own photographers, as well as by purchasing the work of other photographers. This included purchasing thousands of negatives from landscape photographer William Henry Jackson. In 1897, Jackson became a partner in the company, continuing to photograph for himself and the firm.

In 1905 the Detroit Photographic Company changed its name to the Detroit Publishing Company. Along with sales from its printed products, the company offered its services to other companies to produce sales literature, catalogs and promotional material as well as producing souvenirs for the tourist industry. At the height of its success, the Detroit Publishing Company employed over forty artisans and more than a dozen traveling salesman, selling millions of prints annually. However, with the development of new, cheaper printing methods used by competing companies and declining sales during World War I, the company went out of business and was liquidated in 1932.