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Goodridge Wasn’t the Only Photographer in York

One hundred and fifty years ago York Countians loved to have their photograph taken. The art of practical photography was less than 20 years old, but there were at least two outstanding photographers in York. We seem to hear most often about Glenalvin Goodridge, perhaps because his father William is known as the first successful African American businessman in York.
J. Thomas Williams may have been more prolific than Goodridge, judging from the examples of his work that have survived. He was also very accomplished, as attested in the following ad, which had already been running in the Gazette for at least two and a half years in the fall of 1857:


“THE BEST LIKENESSES.
Persons wanting the best likenesses should enquire for WILLIAMS’ GALLERY. He has been longer in business than any other one in this part of the country. His Pictures are plainer and the EYES ARE CLEARER, than those taken at other places.
As daguerreotypists that can take only common pictures often praise themselves as being the best, &c., WILLIAMS does not ask any one to believe what he says of himself, but refers them to the opinion of good judges, appointed to examine his work with others.
A Committee appointed by the York Bank, after careful examination, awarded to WILLIAMS
ONE PREMIUM OF $20.00,
ONE PREMIUM OF $10.00,
ONE PREMIUM OF $5.00,
for the best Daguerreotypes of York.
He also received from the York county Fair, TWO DIPLOMAS, for superior Pictures; and from the Lancaster county Fair, ONE DIPLOMA, for large and handsome DAGUERREOTYPE GROUPS.
PICTURES are taken in any Weather.
Persons wishing to avoid the crowd will please call in the early part of the day.–Always on hand GOLD & GILT MEDALIONS–plain and fancy cases, warranted to please or no charge.
Be careful to enquire for WILLIAMS’ GALLERY, Next to the Post-Office, George St.”
Click here to read about 1850s photos on tombstones.
Click here to read more about the York Fair.