Since coming to work in Historical & Special Collections I have had the opportunity to interact with some truly amazing materials. Over and over again I find myself drawn to photograph portraits in our collection. I think it is because of the power these images have to transport us to another time and to imagine life in a different era.
Many faculty portraits in our collection were taken by Bachrach, Inc. While I recognized the name and knew it was important in the field of portrait photography, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon Douglas Collins’ 1992 publication “Photographed by Bachrach : 125 years of American Portraiture” that I truly came to appreciate the Bachrach legacy. In the foreword, Collins writes that Bachrach, Inc. is the “longest continuously operated photography studio in America.” David Bachrach, Jr. (1845-1921) a German immigrant opened the first Bachrach studio in Baltimore in 1869. The family business is currently run by his great grandson, Robert Bachrach, whose father was the prominent photographer Fabian Bachrach (1917-2010). It was Robert’s grandfather, Louis Fabian Bachrach (1881-1963) who moved the business to Massachusetts and expanded it so that at its height it included forty-eight studios with six hundred employees.
Examples of Bachrach photography in our collection include photographs of Roscoe Pound, Harold J. Berman, Felix Frankfurter, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. There are additional Bachrach photographs at various Harvard repositories, which can be accessed through VIA, or spend some time paging through the many examples in Collins’ book. You might just find yourself swept back in time.