Written by Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell. Brownie cameras gave birth to amateur photography in the early 20th century. This one from the Blackley Collection is a No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie dating from 1917-1926 and it’s in especially great shape. First produced in 1900, early Brownies were made of cardboard and the cheap material allowed them to be sold for only $2.00. Ours is a later edition made from aluminum and would have been costlier but longer lasting. Because these new cameras were inexpensive and small they could be used by anyone and were even marketed towards children. Soldiers often took them overseas because they were easy to carry and use in the field. No one had never seen anything like them and incredible accessibility of this new photography tool revolutionized news and the way people saw the world.
One of the best parts of processing manuscript collections is the interesting and unique materials found in the process. This week, while processing the Blackley Family Papers, History Graduate Assistant Joel Webster found a 1934 letter written by Charles Blackley Sr. while traveling in Vienna. Read more for an interesting insight into the early years of the Third Reich.