In this post, we will give you a swift glimpse of the C.M. Bell Studio Collection. This is a digitized album of 19th-century portraits shot by Charles Milton Bell. Bell came from a Washington-based family of photographers, and over his career, he produced more than 25,000 glass plate negatives. These were recently digitized by the Library of Congress for the public's free use.
If you wish to see more of the collection, click here. You can read further about the origins of these photos here.
The photographs document the daily fashions, manners, and customs of 19th-century Washington. Along with traditional, straight-faced portraits, you can find some more humorous, relaxed, or interesting ones, such as a portrait of an amputee holding his prosthetic. The reason for this wide variety of types is that Bell was one of the leading portrait photographers in the city at the time. He captured politicians, notable businessmen, churchmen, and athletes, as well as middle-class members of society.
Periodical child attire
Woman with her pet bird
Native American portraits
A leg amputee holding his prosthetic
The dog got one too
Men in the 19th century took their mustache seriously