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Guide to the Theron Kilmer Photograph Collection
ca. 1920-1942
 PR 30

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Kate Fais

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on April 24, 2017
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Theron Kilmer Photograph Collection
Dates: ca. 1920-1942
Abstract: Artistic portraits of male sitters, mainly physicians and clergymen.
Quantity: 5.36 Linear feet (4 boxes, 66 photographic prints)
Call Phrase: PR 30

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Biographical Note

Theron Wendell Kilmer (1872-1946), a well-known New York pediatrician and police surgeon, pursued his photographic avocation by specializing in soft-focus head-and-shoulder portraits of men, most of whom were his friends and/or colleagues. Kilmer won many prizes for his photographs of character-filled faces. He also published more than a dozen portraits and technical articles in the American Annual of Photography and in  Photo-Era, to which he contributed from ca. 1915 until his death. He was a member of the Royal Photographic Society and the Oval Table Society

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Scope and Content Note

The Theron W. Kilmer Portrait Photograph Collection spans the period from ca. 1920 to ca. 1942, and primarily contains silver gelatin and a few gum bichromate photographs of men. About half of the 66 portraits depict physicians, clergymen, and other men identified by name. The remaining portraits are studies of African-American men, men with beards, and such ethnic character types as "The Sheik" and "The Hindu." Most of the prints are signed and bear stickers from camera club exhibitions throughout the United States.

Kilmer's writings on photography provide a window into his techniques, as well as his personal aesthetic. In the American Annual of Photography (1942) he explained that he enjoyed seeing the faces of his colleagues on his study walls. He also wrote there that he photographed men because "Women usually want all the "lines taken out" - leaving the face a smooth globe, devoid of all character." Kilmer was particularly interested in facial lines as evidence of expression and character.

Photographs are arranged alphabetically by surname, with unidentified sitters filed at the end. In some cases, further information about the sitters has been included in the box and folder listing.


Photographs are arranged alphabetically by surname, with unidentified sitters filed at the end.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Gum bichromate prints
  • Photographic prints

Subject Topics

  • African American men -- Portraits
  • Clergy -- Portraits
  • Men -- Portraits
  • Physicians -- Portraits
  • Portrait photography

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Administrative Information


Gift of Mrs. Wendell Kilmer, 1973.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from:
Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270
Fax: (212) 579-8794

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Theron W. Kilmer Portrait Photograph Collection, PR 030, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

Other portraits can be found throughout the Department's collections. Artistic portrait photographs of a similar time-period are in the Doris Ulmann Photograph Collection, the Arnold Genthe Photograph Collection, and the Pirie MacDonald Photograph Collection.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: - Folder : - Identified by Surname
Box: 1 Folder : 1 William A. Alcock, FRPS (ca. 1881-1944, photographer)
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Captain William K. Allen (Nassau County, NY, Police Department)
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Roy Bucklee as David
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Harry T[hacker]. Burleigh (1866-1949, singer and musician)
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Col. W.S. Conrow
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Asa Don Dickinson (1876-1960, American library pioneer in India)
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Charles Elmer (1872-1954, astronomer and businessman)
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Albion N. Fellows, M.A.
Box: 1 Folder : 9 J.W.G. Greeff, M.D.
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Dr. Walter Henry Hall
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Nelson Hance
Box: 1 Folder : 12 John A. Hartwell, M.D.
Box: 1 Folder : 13 H.A. Haubold, M.D.
Box: 1 Folder : 14 John Hutchins, A.R.P.S.
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Dr. A. Jacobi (2 portraits)
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Rev. Arthur H. Judge, D.D. (Minister at St. Matthew & St. Timothy Episcopal Church, W. 84th Street, New York City; 2 portraits)
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Lawrence McSherry
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Dr. McWilliams
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Rev. Donald Millar (Curate at St. Matthew & St. Timothy Episcopal Church, W. 84th Street, New York City; 3 portraits)
Box: 2 Folder : 20 James A. Miller, M.D.
Box: 2 Folder : 21 A.V. Mood, Esq. (2 portraits)
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Rudolph Powell
Box: 2 Folder : 23 Mr. R
Box: 2 Folder : 24 Joseph Romano
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Dr. D.J. Ruzicka, F.R.P.S. (photographer)
Box: 2 Folder : 26 W.J. Schubert
Box: 2 Folder : 27 William N. Shaw (businessman)
Box: 3 Folder : 28 George D. Stewart, M.D.
Box: 3 Folder : 29 Dr. Maximilian Toch, F.R.P.S. (photographer)
Box: 3 Folder : 30 Frederick Bulkley Tuttle
Box: - Folder : - Unidentified, ethnic or racial "types"
Box: 3 Folder : 31 "American Indian" and "Young Buck Indian" (same sitter, 2 portraits)
Box: 3 Folder : 32 "An Arab," "An Ethiopian," "The Sheik" (same sitter, 3 portraits)

General note

The portrait titled "An Ethiopian" is a gum print.

Box: 3 Folder : 33 "A Hindu"
Box: 3 Folder : 34 "Gray-Haired Negro" and "White-Haired Negro" (same sitter, 2 portraits)
Box: 3 Folder : 35 "Negro with Pipe"
Box: 3 Folder : 36-37 Old Mose," "Old Negro," and "The Preacher" (same sitter, 5 portraits)
Box: 3 Folder : 38 "A Russian Nobleman"
Box: - Folder : - Unidentified, titled by profession
Box: 4 Folder : 39 "The Ashman"
Box: 4 Folder : 40 "Fireman"
Box: 4 Folder : 41 "A Guide," "The Old Scout," and "A Trapper" (same sitter)
Box: 4 Folder : 42 "The Rabbi" (3 portraits)
Box: - Folder : - Unidentified
Box: 4 Folder : 43-44 "Four Score and Ten," "Head Study," and "Old Man with Pipe" (same sitter, 4 portraits)
Box: 4 Folder : 45 "Real Santa"
Box: 4 Folder : 46 "Character Study" and "Head Study" (same sitter, young)

General note

The portrait "Head Study" is a gum print.

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