Ten Things You Didn’t Know About J. Alfred Myer
Guest Post by Kevin Twitchell, Marketing Intern
Our newest exhibition, No Dull Days: J. Alfred Myer’s Turn-of-the-Century America, features beautiful photographs taken by J. Alfred Myer during the late 1800s and early 1900s. His work photographing the residents of his hometown of Milford, Pennsylvania gives us a glimpse into the past into the well-known decades of the Gilded Age, the First World War, and the Roaring Twenties. Here are ten amazing facts about Myer’s work that will hopefully inspire you as you see his work in the exhibition:
1. Myer was a devout Methodist until his conversion to the LDS church later in his life.
2. Running Myer’s photography studio was a family affair. Even his children helped in staging portraits and developing film.
3. Myer’s family sold strawberries and eggs to supplement their income.
4. Myer’s youngest daughter, Vera, was the only one of his six children to continue on with his business. She ran her father’s gallery until 1952, when she finally sold it.
5. Myer’s first studio was a simple canvas tent. He later personally constructed a home for his family as well as a new studio.
6. In 1885, Myer purchased a camera lens for $90–during a time when most people made 50 cents a day. This same lens was later stolen one winter by a thief that was passing through the town. It was returned to Myer after a police officer tracked the thief’s footprints in the snow.
7. No Dull Days features a 1913 Model E motorcycle made by the Indian Motorcycle Co.
8. Myer’s hometown of Milford, Pennsylvania became a popular tourist destination in the early 1900s because of its extreme natural beauty. It was because of this beauty that it was chosen as the film location for several movies, including “The Informer” (1912) and “A Feud in the Kentucky Hills” (1912).
9. As the only photographer in Milford, Myer was hired for almost all special occasions including weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc. Myer was described as having an engaging personality which helped the subjects of his photographs to feel at ease in front of the camera.
10. Myer received his initial training from a traveling photographer who passed through his town.