31-Traveling and Photo Cars

In today’s episode, it’s all about travel … including a bit more about the 19th Century traveling photograph studios known as Photo Cars.


Photo by the Vreeland Rail-Road Palace Photo Car
(For more on Mrs. Vreeland, refer back to Episode 21 )

Undated Cabinet Card photo of man and woman by Vreeland's Rail-Road Palace Photo Car McIntyre-Culy Collection)
Undated Cabinet Card by Vreeland’s Rail-Road Palace Photo Car (photo from McIntyre-Culy private Collection)

Photo of the Chaudet Photo Car
(For more on the Chaudet studio, refer back to Episode 19)

Photo of Chaudet Photo Car (photo courtesy University of Kansas Spencer Library, KIC_RH_PH_72.49)
Photo of Chaudet Photo Car (photo courtesy University of Kansas Spencer Library, KIC_RH_PH_72.49)

Here’s the sketch of the Chaudet car that appeared in the newspaper advertisements – compare to the photo of the real car above.

1898 Valley Falls Vindicator

Many thanks to Kathy Lafferty at the Spencer Research Library at KU for this Chaudet Photo.  Kathy also provided the photo of J.B. Shane and his photo car in Episode 29.

2019 American Historical Association Annual Conference

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to take a photo car when I travel to Chicago to attend  the American Historical Association annual conference. I was a co-organizer for two sessions on women photographers in general, and I’ll be giving a talk during one of them. Here are some links:

Two Panel sessions I organized with Kelly Midori McCormick at the AHA 2019

My talk at AHA 2019


You’re listening to Photographs, Pistols, and Parasols.

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Welcome to Photographs, Pistols & Parasols, the podcast where we celebrate early women artisan photographers.

I’m your host, Lee McIntyre.

In today’s episode, just a quick follow up about the notion of a “Photo Car.”

For more information about any of the women discussed in today’s episode, visit my website at p3photographers.net.

That’s letter “p”, number “3”, photographers “dot” net.

Hi, everybody!

Happy 2019!

I’m on the move this week as I gear up to present a paper at the American Historical Association’s annual conference.

My topic, of course, is all about early women’s photographers, just like I talk about here on the podcast.

I’ll be sharing some of their stories, and pulling out some of what I call “narrative nuances” — in other words, the common themes that run through their stories.

Basically, I’ll be doing some “myth-busting” to debunk some assumptions or misconceptions about early women photographers, i.e. the thinking that they’re not real photographers running their own studios.

Of course, as listeners of this podcast, you already know that these women were indeed excellent early photographic entrepreneurs all in their own right.

Anyway, since I’m traveling this week, it seems a perfect opportunity to share a couple of fun photos that have turned up related to travel.

Well, at least related to traveling photo cars…

First of all, I have a recent acquisition to share that my husband and I found.

It’s a standard cabinet card portrait of a man and a woman taken by the Vreeland studios.

The Vreeland Studios, as you might recall from Episode 21, were run by Mrs Rosa Vreeland – sometimes by herself, sometimes with one of her husbands, sometimes with her son, and often with female assistants.

Now, the photo that I want to share was taken by that Vreeland Rail-Road Palace Photo Car.

A Photo Car (you might recall from a previous episode) was, in the late nineteenth century, a private railroad car used as a traveling photo studio.

I just love the idea of having a private railroad car, and a railroad car that’s also a photo studio?!

Well, I just find that fabulous.

Anyway, the photo taken by the Vreeland Rail-Road Palace Photo Car is really just a standard cabinet card that you might find taken in any 19th century studio.

As I said, it’s a head and shoulders shot of a man and a woman; possibly a married couple.

I say “possibly” because there’s this odd, hand-written note on the back of the photo that says “AW and Squaw”.

And I honestly don’t know what to make of that.

I can’t tell you when the photo was taken, but I do know that this Mrs. Vreeland had her photo car in the very late 1890s.

In April of 1900, in fact, there’s a notice that something that is now called “Vreeland Rail-Road Photo Art Car” will be making stops across Kansas.

The people on board in that voyage included Mrs Rosa Vreeland herself, her son, George, who was also a photographer, [and] a woman named Miss Leora Seitz, who worked on and off for Mrs Vreeland’s studios, and in between she worked as a deputy sheriff in McPherson, Kansas – a fascinating career all on her own.

Of course, Mrs Rosa Vreeland wasn’t the only photographer to have a photo car.

Back in Episode 19 (on the Blue Rapids photographers) I mentioned that Mr and Mrs Chaudet, in addition to their brick and mortar studios, also had a private railroad photo car.

The Chaudets actually took out huge notices in the newspapers to advertise when their photo car would be stopping in a particular town in Kansas.

I think I shared one of those notices in the episode notes for that episode, because it included a very detailed sketch of the Chaudet photo car.

We can see from the sketch (again, in the ad in the newspaper) that the Chaudet photo car was covered with text along the side.

Across the top it says the Chaudet Art Co.’s Photo Car; in tall capital letters interspersed next to the windows it spells out the word “PHOTOGRAPHS”; and then more writing appeared underneath the windows — sort of flowing in waves under the windows.

But it was hard to make out in the sketch what that text actually was.

Kathy Lafferty from the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas heard that episode and realized that she’d seen a photograph of the Chaudet photo car at the archives there at the University of Kansas.

So she found it and send me a copy which I’m just going to share in the episode notes today.

What’s wonderful about that photograph is that not only can we see two men standing next to the Chaudet photo car — they’re not identified but perhaps one of them was Mr. Chaudet and or his son , who was also a photographer.

But what we can see from the photograph is that the sketch that the artist did of the photo car [for the newspaper notice] was meticulous and pretty accurate, because we see the writing across the side [of the car] and now we can actually make out what some of that flowing text underneath the windows actually was.

One of the things that it says is “Our flashlight process a specialty.”

Plus, you can read that one of the other specialties of the photo car was “landscape photography”, which was a specialty of the Chaudet son.

As always I’ll be sharing those photos in the episode notes for today’s episode on my website at p3photographers.net.

Remember, that’s letter “p”, number “3”, photographers “dot” net.


Unfortunately I won’t be able to take a photo car to Chicago [to go] to the American Historical Association’s annual conference.

But at least I’ll be able to share some of the stories about women like Mrs Vreeland and Mrs. Chaudet with the audience there.

I’m really looking forward to it.

As I mentioned, you can see the photos and the other information about the women mentioned on today’s episode on my website at p3photographers.net.

I also want to thank once again Kathy Lafferty for all of her help and particularly for finding that Chaudet photo car photo for this episode.

But also she was wonderful help with finding the photos for the episode on the Shane family in Lawrence, and that included a photo of J.B. Shane and his photo car.

I will put a link to [back to] that in the episode notes for today’s episode as well.

I’ll also include a link for some more information about the AHA conference and my talk that occurs on January 4th, 2019.

If you happen to be at the conference, I hope you’ll come and check out the talk, and also stop by and say hello.

If you have any questions or ideas for women photographers to profile in this podcast, drop me a line at podcast “at” p3photographers “dot” net.

I really love hearing from everyone; and thank everyone who sent in some emails asking me more questions about the photo cars.

I hope you’ll enjoy the photos that I’m sharing today.

Remember, you can always follow photographs pistols and parasols on Facebook at facebook.com/p3photographers.

Well, that’s it for today.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Until next time, I’m Lee, and this is Photographs, Pistols, & Parasols.

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