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Guide to the Howe Family Photograph Collection
circa 1890's-1900's
 PR 292

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 12, 2012
Finding Aid is written in English

Descriptive Summary

Title: Howe Family Photograph Collection
Dates: circa 1890's-1900's
Abstract: This collection consists of approximately 150 photographs (gelatin silver prints and cyanotypes) of members of the Howe family and their residences in the Bronx and in Hazleton, PA.
Quantity: 0.21 Linear feet (1 half-hollinger box)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 292

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Biographical/Historical note

Edward Howe appears to have settled in the Bronx in the early to mid-19th century. Born in Maine in 1820, he married Nannie (also given as Narrie) Mack, and they had three sons, all born in New York: Edward E. (1864), Frederick (1865) and Alfred (1872).

The Howes were a musical family. The elder Edward listed his occupation in census reports as "music teacher," and two of his three sons (Edward E. and Alfred) also became professional musicians. By 1900, Edward E. was married, had four children, and was living in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he taught music. Alfred, who also married, remained in the Bronx, and apparently worked as a musician in the theater and aboard ships. Alfred and his wife had one daughter and lived in what seems to have been the original Howe home at 575 Trinity Avenue.

Although Frederick Howe was also musically trained, he was employed as an architect and draughtsman in the Topographical Bureau of the Borough of the Bronx. Never married, Frederick lived with his mother at 565 Trinity Avenue in the Bronx, next door to Alfred. Described as "rather eccentric," Frederick engineered and built a series of small railroads on the Bronx property that the family used to haul coal. Frederick is also credited with originating the idea of a parkway linking the three boroughs, although his plan was never realized. He committed suicide in 1911.

The Howe family members were apparently all vegetarians and in 1887, Edward E. Howe published a vegetarian cookbook.

Alfred Howe sold the two Trinity Avenue homes in 1925.

The photographs in this collection were most likely taken by Alfred Howe, and were donated to the New-York Historical Society by Edmund Bramhall Child III, a collector and long-time Bronx resident. Child was himself a musician and amateur actor and may well have been a friend of the family.

Special thanks to N-YHS librarian Joseph Ditta for his invaluable assistance in researching the Howe family.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection consists of approximately 150 photographs (gelatin silver prints and cyanotypes) relating to the Howe family of the Bronx and Hazelton, PA. Most likely taken by Alfred Howe in the 1890's and 1900's, the photographs show family members, their residences and neighborhoods, and some machinery designed and manufactured by Frederick Howe.

Photographs of the Bronx residences, located on Trinity Avenue, show the area before the streets were graded. The Howe property apparently encompassed 15 city lots, and was perched on a rocky precipice opposite Lebanon Hospital. In addition to photographs, the collection includes an application to reduce property taxes filed in 1907, which asserts that there was no wagon road to the property, and that in winter coal had to be hoisted up the hill by a steam derrick and then moved across the property by hand on a small railway (built and engineered by Frederick Howe). The application also describes the damage resulting to an old frame house that was moved 170 feet across the property. Photographs, including some that were filed with the application, show the houses, the steam derrick and the railway.

Other Bronx images include a large cyanotype of the elevated train station at East 145th Street, and photographs of damage to Frederick Howe and his house following a fire in May, 1909.

Photographs of Hazleton, PA, include street views, shots of the homes where Alfred Howe's children were born, and interior shots of a local grocer. Also included are photographs of coal mining equipment, some of it designed and built by Frederick T. Howe.

Arrangement note

This collection has been organized by subject matter into ten folders.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Howe, Alfred
  • Howe, Edward E.
  • Howe, Frederick T., 1865-1911
  • Howe, Nannie (Narrie)

Document Type

  • Cyanotypes

Subject Topics

  • Coal
  • Suicide

Subject Places

  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hazleton (Pa.)


  • Musicians

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Administrative Information


Gift of Edmund Bramhall Child, 1946.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Appointments to view the collection must be made in advance. To schedule an appointment, contact the Reference Librarian for the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections at printroom@nyhistory.org.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to:

Department of Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194

Permission to reproduce or quote text from this collection in a publication must be requested from and granted in writing by the Library Director, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194.

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation note

This collection should be cited as: Howe Family Photograph Collection, PR 291, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.


Treman, Ebenezer Mack (1901). History of the Treman, Tremaine, Truman Family in America. New York: Press of the Ithaca Democrat.

"Idealist Ends Life as his Dreams Fail." New York Herald, May 20, 1911.

"Inventor Kills Himself." New York Times, May 20, 1911.

"Muscle Without Meat: The Vegetarians of New York and Their Apostles." New York Press, December 30, 1888.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Bronx residences
circa 1907
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Documents regarding taxes and liability
1907 March 15, May 20
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Bronx neighborhood
Box: 1 Folder : 4 "Mack Mansion," birthplace of Frederick T. Howe
1906 February 5
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Ships and travel photos
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Unidentified locations
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Howe family members
1909, 1906, 1905, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Unidentified musicians
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Hazleton, PA
1896 May 2, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Machinery, Hazleton, PA
1896 April - May, undated

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