About the Exhibit

Since its invention in the early 1800s, the camera has become a time machine of sorts. It possesses the unique power of capturing a singular moment in time—forever freezing the subject exactly as it was at that instant. Because of this seemingly magical ability, photography has always held the public’s fascination from its debut in the mid-19th century.

Drawn from the Library’s vast photograph collections, Photography Through the Lens of St. Louis explores the works of a select group of prominent St. Louis area photographers who were active from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s: Enoch Long, the Parrish sisters (Williamina and Grace), Jessie Tarbox Beals, J.C. (Julius Caesar) Strauss, and the father-and-son team of Albert J. and Albert W. Dubach.

Our collections encompass approximately 15,000 images in various formats, including daguerreotypes, tintypes, lantern slides, picture photos, stereographs, albums, portraitures, and glass plate negatives. The images reflect the photographers’ distinct perspectives and the progression of early photographic processes.

From landscapes to portraits to everyday snapshots, Photography Through the Lens of St. Louis lets viewers experience singular moments in historic St. Louis… frozen in time.