100 years ago today: A Focus on Advertising

On May 27th, 1924, faithful readers of the Rushville Republican newspaper in Rushville, Indiana would not have been surprised to spot an ad for the Euphemia Lewis photography studio. You see, from the moment Miss Lewis’ studio first opened back in 1917, ads for her studio featured almost daily in the Rushville newspaper. Check out the ad from 100 years ago today:

Very basic ad for Euphemia Lewis, Photographer. Daily Republican (Rushville, Indiana), May 28, 1924
Daily Republican (Rushville, Indiana), May 27, 1924

Now, regular readers would also have recognized that today’s ad was one of her more basic ones, which she reverted to when not running an ad campaigns based on a specific theme. This pattern — alternating simple ads in the paper with more eye-catching complex ones — starts in the spring of 1917 with her first “themed” ad seen here:

Early ad for Euphemia Lewis' photography studio. Rushville Republican, March 8, 1917
Rushville Republican, March 8, 1917A

After scanning through the many hundreds (!) of matches I found when searching the online newspapers from Indiana from 1917-1949 for anything related to the Euphemia Lewis studio, I can say that Euphemia was quite consistent in her use of the power of advertising. Most of those hundreds of newspaper clippings were ads for her studio. She definitely had a talent in the art of advertising.

I haven’t seen this level of advertising investment in any other women photographers I’ve looked at before. Most of the early women photographers we’ve researched for this project tend to spend on advertising for themed ads that appear at certain times of the year. But not Euphemia Lewis – at the very least, she almost always has some basic boxed ad appearing in the daily newspaper.

[ I confess I haven’t actually looked to see if she ever missed any weeks in the newspaper. At a casual glance, it would seem that she doesn’t, but I didn’t have the time and energy to really compile a comprehensive list of ALL 700+ clippings. But I could see from the thumbnails of the clips that many, many ads were repeated daily/weekly over time.]

Euphemia Lewis actually started her adult working life in the 1890s as a teacher, not as a photographer. She taught in her hometown of Terra Haute, Indiana. Then, circa 1910, she moved to Indianapolis and worked for a photographer there. In 1917 she moved to Rushville, Indiana and opened her own studio there. She continued to live and work as a photographer in Rushville until her death in January 1949 at the age of 79.

Euphemia is doing photography right up until the end. Her studio ads appear in the newspaper throughout December 1948, ending mere weeks before she passed away in January 1949. Here’s what those last ads look like:

Ad for her residence studio in December 1948, just a month. before she died,. Rushville Republican, December 3, 1948
Final newspaper ad for her studio; the same ad runs throughout the entirety of December 1948
Rushville Republican, December 3, 1948

According to the photography services offered in her advertising, Euphemia Lewis’ primary photographic business model is portraitures, particularly specializing in children’s portraits. Alas, though, I’m having trouble finding examples of her portrait work to share here.

However, Euphemia also took photos of events happening in Rushville, with those types of photos sometimes appearing in the newspaper. For example, in 1930, her photos of the new Rushville Post office building appear in the newspaper:.

Photos published in the newspaper taken by Euphemia Lewis of Rushville, Indiana's new post office. Rushville Republican, November 8, 1930
Rushville Republican, November 8, 1930

Also, I ran across the following wonderful photo that was posted in the Indiana Album: Kevin Harr Collection on Facebook. According to notes for the photo in the Facebook post, this photo was taken in 1922 of a cake baked by a local bakery for the Rushville Centennial celebration. That’s a 500 pound fruit cake you see in the photo, complete with 100 candles on it:

1922 photo of little boy standing next to 500 pound fruit cake with 100 candles. From the Indiana Album: Kevin Harr Collection (facebook). Photo credit: E. Lewis, Rushville
Photo credit: E. Lewis, Rushville
1922 photo – found on Facebook in the
Indiana Album: Kevin Harr Collection
(click here to see post on Facebook)

The photo was published in the Rushville Republican in 1922 at the time of the town celebration, and reprinted 50 years later in an article in the same newspaper looking back at the town’s centennial festivities. What a great image, eh?

In addition to doing photography, Miss Lewis also gives the occasional lecture about photography to local groups. Interestingly, early on her sister, Lydia Lewis, is mentioned in the newspaper notices as also giving occasional talks about photography. But Lydia Lewis is never officially listed in the newspaper as a partner in Euphemia’s studio nor as a photographer running her own studio somewhere else. So, I’m not sure what to make of that.

I should note that there are no city directories of Rushville available online, which makes it harder to find out more general information about Lydia Lewis’ occupation. So, it’s hard to say if Lydia worked with Euphemia officially at any time. Of course, based on the newspaper evidence alone, there’s no uncertainty about the fact that Euphemia Lewis ran a photography business in Rushville, Indiana for more than 30 years.

Circa 1940, Euphemia closes up her separate studio location, choosing to contnue her photography businesses via a home studio.

Euphemia Lewis opens a home studio (notice in paper). Rushville Republican, April 8, 1940
Rushville Republican, April 8, 1940

For many years prior to 1940, she’s been advertising about offering an option where instead of people having to come to her photography studio to get their picture taken, she will instead arrange to go to their homes to take their pictures there.

Home Portraiture ad for the Euphemia Lewis studio Rushville, Indiana. Rushville Republican, March 17, 1922
Rushville Republican, March 17, 1922

Maybe not having to continue to pay for the separate studio location makes good business sense for her by 1940, i.e. if she’s been getting enough business from people opting for her “at home” portrait service for all these years.

Or, it could be that having her studio in her home gave Euphemia more time to be at home to pursue her other passion: gardening. She’s active with the local Rushville Garden Club for many years, and there are indeed many mentions in the newspaper of her gardening-related activities. She was active with that Garden Club for so many years that, after she dies the club offers a special memorial moment to her at their next meeting.

Garden Club marks the passing of Miss Lewis after her death. Rushville Republican, February 3, 1949
Rushville Republican, February 3, 1949

[BTW, I find the choice of wording here a little curious. I mean it says Mrs. Snider “gave an appropriate memorial service”. “Appropriate”? Interesting.]

In any case, let us take a moment today to appreciate (appropriately) the long, successful career of Euphemia Lewis, Photographer, of Rushville, Indiana.

As promised above, below are a few more of Euphemia Lewis’ many, many photography studio ads. In the first one, she’s capitalizing on the idea of offering more “artistic” studio photos. Next up, a themed ad where she has unique messaging for taking Graduation photos. In the next two examples, I liked the cute artwork. Finally, since I showed you her early Mother’s Day ad above, it seemed only fair to end with one of her Father’s Day ads.


Artistic Photographs ad for The Euphemia Lewis Studio. Rushville Republican, November 17, 1917. (One of her earliest ads.(
Rushville Republican, November 17, 1917
Euphemia Lewis ad - graduation themed. Rushville Republican, May 20, 1920
Rushville Republican, May 20, 1920
Euphemia Lewis Studio ad (fancy) - Rushville Republican, December 15, 1922
Rushville Republican, Dec 15, 1922
Ad for The Euphemia Lewis Studio. Rushville Republican, June 1, 1923
Rushville Republican, June 1, 1923
Euphemia Lewis ad - Father's Day themed. Rushville Republican, June 11, 1923
Rushville Republican, June 11, 1923