HOME, Introduction, Biography, Backmarks, Studio Location, Princeton College, Family, Charles Howell, James Howell, West Point


These famous (or infamous) people of their time had a choice of several notable New York City portrait photographers to capture their likenesses, including Mathew Brady, Jose Mora, George Rockwood, Abraham Bogardus, Napoleon Sarony, C. D. Fredericks, and of course W. R. Howell.  Many photographers enticed celebrities to their studios with offers of complimentary services in exchange for rights to sell their images to the public.  Prominently displaying these pictures lured in the street traffic.

Oftentimes the actual photographs were not taken by the credited photographers.  The larger galleries employed a staff of camera operators.  Many studios had several posing rooms open at the same time.  Some gallery owners were known as celebrities themselves and were occupied with running the business and greeting important guests.  For example:  Dean Crossin was listed as an operator for Howell in 1874.  In 1869, Frank Pearsall, who later owned Howell's Brooklyn studio, was a "positionist" for photographer Jeremiah Gurney.  Frank's brother Alva was a camera operator for Mathew Brady in 1871 and made ten negatives in 45 minutes of the visiting Grand Duke Alexis from Russia.  Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner also worked for Brady and for several years ran his Washington, D.C. studio.  It's speculated that Brady had failing eyesight and made few of the pictures he took credit for.

Lt. Colonel George A. Custer, believed to be taken April 1876.

Lt. Colonel George A. Custer, alternate pose from the same session in 1876.

Fred Grant, President Grant's son

William Belknap, President Grant's Secretary of War, resigned under scandal.

Journalist Charles Dana

"Buffalo Bill" William F. Cody

Confederate President Jefferson Davis after the Civil War

New York Tribune publisher, presidential candidate Horace Greeley

Burlesque dancer Lydia Thompson

Actress Ada Harland

Actress Fanny Davenport

Actress Ida Yearance

Actress Maud Branscombe, 1879

Actress Maud Granger

Actress Pauline Markham, rare Howell stereoview

Unknown, 1875

Author Harriet Beecher Stowe

Railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt

Rare Howell photo with West 14th Street address, building unidentified

Rare Howell Washington, D.C. photo

Unidentified gentleman, large format 10"x 14"

Rare Howell stereoview, Actress Josie Mansfield, had an affair with New York financier James Fisk, Jr. Fisk was shot to death by a jealous rival.

Corrupt New York political boss, William "Boss" Tweed. This Howell image was used on Tweed's wanted poster.


Search William Howell photographs at Harvard University