The William E. James Stereograph Collection

William E. James
William Evans James, born, Troyfa, Unvedd, Wales, 1835, died, Santa Cruz, California, 1887

Photography by Professor William E. James, official photographer for the Quaker City Excursion summer of 1867. James was also a correspondent for the Brooklyn Eagle during the 5 1/2 month voyage through Europe and the Holy Land. The steamship Quaker City's passenger list was comprised of many prominent and familiar personalities of the period. One such passenger, Mark Twain later wrote, "Innocence Abroad" detailing the trip. W. E. James' stereoscopic images of Europe and the Holy Land were used for educational purposes in Sunday schools and in his lectures. Many of James' stereoviews are of missions and early settlements. The series, “Views of Palestine and the East”, with a backlist of 60 stereoviews, could be purchased in New York from most of the publishers and dealers in Stereoscopic Views, A. O. Van Lennep, George W. Thorne, William B. Holmes, and L. E. Walker.


By newspaper accounts Mr. W. E. James held the chair as vice president of the newly formed "Brooklyn Photographic Society" when they held their first public meeting in July of 1864. His gallery was located at No. 267 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. and although he advertised "Portraits Taken", he was devoted to stereo photography and spent much of his time in the field extensively photographing Utica, Brooklyn, and the newly developing Prospect Park in Brooklyn among other things. At the end of the Civil War, as a member of the Oceanus Excursion his photography documented the destruction of Charleston, and Beecher's Oration at Fort Sumter. After Lincoln's assassination, Ford's Theater, The Whitehouse, and the Funeral Procession down Broadway were captured as "instantaneous views", a newly devised procedure in which the exposure time required to set the gelatin plate was less than one second.


Professor James relocated to San Francisco, California in 1874 where he gave highly entertaining and distinguished stereopticon and lecture shows. In October of 1875 as the photographer for the J. M. Hutchings Expedition, James photographed Yosemite Valley and the Mount Whitney area. Hutchings used the photographs in his magic lantern lectures in San Francisco.


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Copyright © 2012 Casey James
Dedicated to the memory of Shirley B. James and Robert K. James