1. Joseph Di Nunzio
PORTRAIT OF GEORGE EASTMAN
George Eastman—do you recognize this name? He is Rochester, N.Y.’s most famous resident, but he wasn’t born there. He is known as the Father of Popular Photography, but he never married. He donated millions of dollars to colleges, but he never finished high school. He started a photography company, but he was not a famous photographer.
2. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN AT AGE 3
This is the earliest known photograph taken of George Eastman. He was born in 1854, just a few years before the Civil War. Back then there were no movies, television, radio, electricity, cars, airplanes, or refrigerators. He lived with his mother, father, and two older sisters in Waterville, New York.George’s sisters were Ellen Maria, who was nine years older than George, and Emma Kate who was four years older. Emma Kate had polio and died before she was twenty. Ellen married George Andrus, and had two children—Royal and Ellen. Her daughter, Ellen, was Eastman’s closest relative.
3. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN'S CHILDHOOD HOME
ca. 1910- 1930
This is the house where they lived in Waterville. George’s father had two businesses. He ran a nursery in Waterville where he grew flowers and trees. He also ran a business school in Rochester, N.Y. George’s father traveled between Waterville and Rochester for several years before he finally moved the whole family to Rochester. Before George was eight years old, his father died. His mother was left with three children to raise alone. She ran a boarding house to earn money. George Eastman’s birthplace in Waterville, NY. was built in the 1840’s in the Greek Revival architectural style. In 1954 the house was moved from Waterville to Rochester and placed on the grounds of the Eastman House. In 1979 the house was moved to Mumford, NY where it is part of the Genesee Country Museum.
4. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN AT ABOUT AGE 13
Although George Eastman was going to a good school in Rochester, he stopped going when he was 13 years old. He got a job in an insurance office doing odd jobs. Notice how dressed up he was in this photograph taken when he was a teenager. He was already acting like an adult. Eastman never returned to school and did not graduate from high school.
GEORGE EASTMAN'S ACCOUNT BOOK
Here is a copy of the record Eastman kept of what he earned and how he spent his money that first year. Notice how neat his handwriting was and how carefully he recorded all of his expenses. Since his father ran a business school, George had probably been taught penmanship and math when he was very young. He earned $131 that first year. Eastman paid his mother $22 for board and still managed to save $39. What were his other expenses?
6. Unidentified photographer
GROUP PHOTO OF ROCHESTER SAVINGS BANK EMPLOYEES INCLUDING GEORGE EASTMAN
Eastman later got a job at the Rochester Savings Bank as a teller. He was in his early 20’s when this photograph was taken. He is seated in the first row, on the far left. While Eastman was employed at the bank, he started to pursue his interest in photography.
7. Robert Kessler
CARTOON OF GEORGE EASTMAN USING WET PLATE PHOTOGRAPHY
After Eastman bought his first camera, he took lessons from George Monroe, a well-known Rochester photographer in the late 1870s. From Monroe he learned how to use the equipment for the wet-plate process. He liked to take pictures, but he thought photography was a lot of work. This cartoon shows Eastman going out to photograph, along with all the equipment he needed to take a picture.
MAN OUTFITTED WITH A PORTABLE DARKROOM
The wet-plate process was the most common photographic method from the 1850s to the 1880s and was used to make ambrotypes (unique positives on glass), tintypes (unique positives on metal), and glass negatives for making multiple prints. Even if a photographer wanted to make only one photograph, he had to carry all of this equipment—a tent or some type of portable darkroom, chemicals, water, glass plates, a camera, and a tripod. The easiest way to carry everything was to use a backpack.
STEPS IN WET-PLATE PHOTOGRAPHY
Step 1 shows a man polishing a plate of glass to be used to hold the photographic emulsion. The glass needed to be very clean so that the collodion would adhere well to it. Step 2 shows a hand pouring collodion, a syrupy chemical solution, onto the clean, glass plate held in the other hand. Step 3 shows the collodion-coated plate being immersed in a tank of silver salts to make it sensitive to sunlight. When this solution was on the glass plate, it was called the emulsion. Step 4 shows the sensitized plate being developed after it has been exposed to light in the camera. Steps 3 and 4 had to be done in a darkroom or tent.
PORTABLE DARKROOM SET UP
This type of photography was called the wet-plate process because the photographer had to coat and sensitize the glass plate, expose it in the camera, and then develop it—all while the emulsion was still wet. If the emulsion dried, it would no longer be light sensitive. If a photographer was shooting on location (away from his studio), he had to take a darkroom with him because the emulsion needed to be sensitized in the dark, just before a picture was taken. This is why he took a tent and all of the chemicals with him. Eastman wanted to take pictures but he wanted the process to be easier.
11. George Eastman
This image shows the Upper Falls of the Genesee River in downtown Rochester, N.Y. as it looked in the 1870s. It was one of the first photographs Eastman took using the wet-plate process.
ADVERTISEMENT FOR A PORTABLE DRY PLATE OUTFIT
In a British photographic journal Eastman had read about gelatin emulsions that remained light-sensitive even after drying. For three years, while he worked at the bank during the day, Eastman experimented in his mother’s kitchen at night trying to perfect a gelatin emulsion. In July 1879, in London, England, Eastman patented a machine that could coat large numbers of glass plates evenly and efficiently, producing a higher quality dry plate. With the invention of the dry plate process the photographer no longer needed to bring along a tent and chemicals because the glass plates were already sensitized and could be developed later. Now the photographer only needed to take the camera, tripod, and box of glass plates.
13. Unidentified photographer
EASTMAN DRY PLATE & FILM COMPANY
Although Eastman had a good job at the bank, he was willing to risk all that he had to start a company that made dry plates for cameras. That was in 1880. Eastman was only 26 years old. He started the Eastman Dry Plate Company in this factory on State Street in downtown Rochester, N.Y.This is a copy of a photograph taken with an early Kodak. Notice that the image is in a circular format. Photographs from early Kodak negatives were contact printed with a circular mask to cover up any loss of emulsion around the edges of the negative.
EASTMAN'S GELATINE DRY PLATES (ORIGINAL BOX)
Eastman’s company sold sensitized glass plates in these boxes. Photography was easier because a photographer could buy a box of glass plates, take pictures, and develop them later. Eastman continued to spend his time trying to make improvements in the field of photography. His goal was to, “make the camera convenient as the pencil.” Therefore, he had to invent a camera that was easy to use. Notice that the original name of the Company was the Dry Plate Company. More than a dozen other companies selling sensitized dry plates included M. A., Seed, Carbutt, Cramer, and Agfa. In order to have a large share of the market Eastman bought out his competitors. Today we say that we use “film” in our cameras. Film is a thin flexible acetate or cellulose nitrate coated with a light-sensitive emulsion. Therefore, when the sensitive glass, dry plates appeared on the market, they were not referred to as film, but simply “dry plates”.
The first successful camera Eastman’s company sold was called the Kodak. It revolutionized photography because all the photographer had to do was press the button and advance the film. The Eastman-Walker Holder, shown here in the image, was the most important part of the camera. The flexible film was on a spool and rolled from one spool to the other after a picture was taken. The camera cost $25 and came loaded with a roll of film to take 100 pictures. After you had taken your pictures, you mailed the camera back to Rochester. Why? Because no other company knew how to develop this new type of film that was on a roll and not on a piece of glass. It cost $10 to have your film developed, prints made, and a new roll of film put in the camera. Then the loaded camera and prints were mailed back to you.
AUTOGRAPHIC ROLL FILM
The Eastman Kodak Company continued to make innovative products in the field of photography and motion pictures. Eventually Kodak began selling individual rolls of film with fewer exposures. This made the process even more affordable and easier because only the film, not the entire camera, had to be mailed in for processing. This is a type of roll film that Kodak developed around 1914 that let the photographer write on the film while it was still in the camera.
KODAK ADVERTISEMENT: "YOU PRESS THE BUTTON, WE DO THE REST"
Eastman recognized the importance of marketing. His company was selling a new idea as well as a new product. Kodak ads were aimed towards women who would want to take hundreds of pictures of their children. It also showed how easy the Kodak was to use.
KODAK ADVERTISEMENT: "THE KODAK AT THE NORTH POLE"
Soon people would say that they were taking their Kodak (not camera), to take a picture. Even when Arctic explorer Rear Admiral Peary went to Greenland, he took his Kodak. Eastman capitalized on Peary’s fame after he reached the North Pole in 1909. This ad used the testimonial, now a common advertising technique.
19. Unidentified photographer
KODAK STATE STREET FACTORY
”You Press the Button, We do the Rest” was the advertising slogan to show how easy the Kodak was to use. The slogan was even painted on the new State Street factory.
Kodak was a word George Eastman invented. He wanted a name that was short, and easy to say and remember in any language. He liked to play a game called ‘anagrams’, which was similar to the game ‘Scrabble’. He would play with the letters to create a word that began and ended with ‘K’. Why ‘K’? Eastman replied, “The letter ‘K’ had been a favorite letter with me—it seems a strong sort of letter—it became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with ‘K’. The word Kodak is the result. ”Kodak has no other meaning than the company it represents. ‘K’ was Eastman’s favorite letter because it was the first letter in his mother’s maiden name, Kilbourn. He used the name at the Eastman School of Music to name Kilbourn Hall.
NO. 1 BROWNIE
This is the first Brownie camera and the box it came in. The Eastman Kodak Company produced the Brownie camera for children. The camera was named after Palmer Cox’s characters, ‘Brownies,’ that he created to illustrate his popular children’s stories in the 1880s. If you were inventing a camera for children, what would you name it? Since its introduction in the 1900s, the Brownie camera has been the most popular camera Eastman Kodak ever produced. In 1930, to celebrate the Brownie’s 30th anniversary and Eastman Kodak’s 50th, the company gave away more than 550,000 Brownie cameras to 12-year-old children.
LES "BROWNIE" KODAKS (FRENCH ADVERTISEMENT)
The Brownie Camera cost one dollar, and a roll of film cost ten cents. Soon children all over the world were taking pictures with Brownie cameras.
23. Unidentified photographer
Kodak Park is the large manufacturing plant that Eastman opened in Rochester. He also had offices and factories in Europe. He had started a company that employed thousands of people around the world.
24. Unidentified Photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN AT HIS DESK
By the turn of the century, before Eastman had turned 50, he had accomplished his goal of making photography as easy as using a pencil, but he was not ready to retire. He continued to work for at least 20 more years, but he also took time to relax and enjoy life more.
25. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN'S MOTHER MARIA EASTMAN
Eastman took care of his mother but he had not found the perfect house for her. He decided to build a house and he bought land in Rochester on East Avenue that was once a small farm of eight and one-half acres. At the time there were not many houses on East Ave. but it is now lined with many large, elaborate homes. Here is a photograph of Eastman’s mother, Maria, when she and her son were living at their new home at 900 East Avenue.
26. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
This is how Eastman’s mansion looked when he and his mother moved into it in 1905. It took three years to build Eastman’s mansion. It had 37 rooms, nine fireplaces, and 13 bathrooms. It even had a 30 ft. square room with an imported marble floor and built-in pipe organ. Eastman had built the largest private home in Monroe County. Can you imagine living in such a large house? Eastman’s mother could no longer walk and she used a wheelchair to get around. An elevator was installed in the house so that she could get upstairs to her bedroom. She lived with him in this house for only two years before she died at the age of 86.The architectural style is Georgian and somewhat reminiscent of his birthplace with the columned front porch. J. Foster Warner was the architect; the architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White in New York City, was a consultant. Eastman lived here from 1905 until he died in 1932.
27. Unidentified Photographer
AERIAL VIEW OF GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
It was a large house for one person, but apparently Eastman did not mind. He never married. Eastman told his friend Mrs. Gleason that he was glad that he had never had a family. “If I had children, and if I deprived them of this, they would hate me; and if I shared it with them, they would be no good.” What did Eastman mean when he said his children would have been no good if he shared his wealth with them? For the next 25 years, Eastman lived in this house by himself, except for his servants. He needed a large staff of servants because there were many things to take care of around the house and gardens. This picture shows Eastman’s house, his flower and vegetable gardens, and the greenhouses. He even had a special building for his horses and carriages.
28. George Eastman
GEORGE EASTMAN'S BARN
Eastman also had a barn on his property where he kept five cows and over a hundred chickens. His housekeeper kept records of how much milk his cows gave and how many eggs his chickens laid.
29. George Eastman
GEORGE EASTMAN'S CAR AND HIS CHAUFFER, HARVEY PADDLEFORD
After the automobile became available, Eastman changed his carriage house into a garage. Even though he had a driver’s license, his chauffeur usually drove Eastman wherever he wanted to go.
30. George Eastman
MAIN STAIRCASE AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
George Eastman designed his mansion for entertaining. The grand staircase with its crystal finials, white marble floor, and ornate molding around wall and ceiling panels, created an elegant entrance to Eastman’s home.
31. Unidentified photographer
CONSERVATORY TABLE AND ORGAN AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
Eastman enjoyed listening to music. The Conservatory, where the organ was located, is the largest room in the house. Eastman sent out invitations to concerts on Wednesdays and Sundays. Sometimes he invited as many as a hundred and fifty guests. In this photograph, the organ was hidden behind a bank of flowers from Eastman’s greenhouses. In 1917 Eastman decided to remodel and expand the room by ten feet. It took two years to complete the project and cost twice as much to remodel as it cost to build the house originally.
32. George Eastman
CONSERVATORY AND ORGAN AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
Eastman hired an organist to play for him every morning at breakfast and again in the evening at dinner. He was so wealthy that he could enjoy such luxuries. Have you ever heard an organ being played? If so, where? The organ was built at the now defunct Aeolian Piano Works in East Rochester. It was installed in the house in 1903 and is an Aeolian Opus 947 organ. It is a theater pipe organ and can replicate the sounds of a full orchestra. It was also a player organ. The cylinders of music for the organ were stored in the cabinets at the sides of the organ.
33. George Eastman
GEORGE EASTMAN'S BILLIARD ROOM
In addition to music, Eastman liked flowers. He had vases of flowers in the house throughout the year. In this photograph of Eastman’s billiard room notice the vase of lilacs. The fresh flowers probably reminded Eastman of his childhood when his father and mother ran the nursery in Waterville.
34. George Eastman
EASTMAN'S TERRACE GARDEN, GREENHOUSES AND HOUSE FROM THE NORTH
There were four greenhouses behind the main house. Eastman’s gardener grew flowers in them all year long, even during the winter. When Eastman was out of town, he would have flowers sent from his greenhouses to his friends in town.The greenhouses were originally behind the East Garden, but were later moved to the other side of the house. Eastman was constantly making changes to his house and grounds.
35. George Eastman
GEORGE EASTMAN'S TERRACE GARDEN
Eastman had two formal flower gardens. One was called the Terrace Garden and was designed and planted before Eastman moved into his new home.The Terrace Garden, designed by Alling DeForest, was the first garden planted. It was behind the main living room and was easily accessible from the patio door in the Conservatory.
36. Charles C. Zoller
GEORGE EASTMAN'S WEST GARDEN
The other garden, called the West Garden, was designed by Claude Bragdon in 1917. A year after the West Garden was planted Eastman removed all the plants and filled the space with potatoes. He was planting his Victory Garden. The United States was fighting in the First World War. Eastman was a very practical man.
37. Unidentified Photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN'S THIRD FLOOR WORKROOM
Two of Eastman’s favorite hobbies were camping and hunting. He enjoyed preparing for these trips in his workshop on the third floor of his house.He also kept his gun collection on the third floor, had a screening room to look at his “home movies”, and a game room where he played billiards.
38. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN IN HIS WORKSHOP
May 10, 1927
Eastman often designed equipment for his excursions, such as a set of pans that fit one inside the other.
39. Unidentified Photographer
He was very organized and would label all the equipment. Then the equipment was evenly divided into boxes to be carried by horses on the camping trips.
40. Unidentified photographer
CASCAPEDIA: GEORGE EASTMAN CAMPING
Eastman also enjoyed cooking on these trips. He prepared dishes like lemon meringue pie (his favorite), fried chicken, and biscuits. He even invented a cake mix that he used on camping trips. According to Osa Johnson, (who along with her husband Martin was in charge of Eastman’s first African safari), Eastman enjoyed cooking as much as the camping, hunting and photography.
41. Unidentified photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN HUNTING IN ALASKA
Does it seem strange to see Eastman dressed in a suit on a hunting expedition? He went on camping trips to Wyoming, Canada, California, North Dakota, and a yacht trip to the West Indies and South America. Eastman always took friends with him. Do you like to go camping?
42. Unidentified Photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN WITH THE ELEPHANT HE KILLED ON SAFARI
When Eastman was 72 years old, the age most people want to take life easy, he went on safari to Africa. While there he hunted many animals including an elephant, which he had mounted in the Conservatory.
43. George Eastman
THIRD FLOOR TROPHY ROOM AND HALLWAY
Eastman hung other trophies in the hallway on the third floor. He was proud of the many different animals he had seen and shot but after a while he preferred to only photograph the animals rather than shoot them. Can you identify any of the animal heads? Eastman’s trophies were also displayed in the halls at the Eastman School of Music during his lifetime. He used to give tours to the school’s students and other children telling them about his exploits as a hunter in Africa. He was proud of his experiences and wanted to share them. Afterwards, he would take the group across the street (Main Street), to a soda shop, which was the local student hangout, and treat everyone to ice cream.
44. Unidentified Photographer
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Although Eastman never married or had a family, he was not a selfish man. By the time he died, he had given away more than 100 million dollars. He wanted to use his money to help make the world a better place. He gave his money to what he felt were important and worthwhile causes. Eastman’s first donation was $10 million to MIT, given anonymously. He gave more than $65 million to colleges like the University of Rochester and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (many of his best research scientists came from MIT). Although Eastman never finished high school, he knew the value of a college education.
45. Unidentified Photographer
LONDON DENTAL CLINIC
Eastman also donated more than $5 million to open dental clinics for children in Rochester, London, Rome, Paris, Stockholm, and Brussels. This picture shows the dental clinic in London in the 1920s. Eastman felt that if children learned to take care of their teeth when they were young, they would not lose them. It is not known whether Eastman suffered from poor teeth or if his interest in dental hygiene arose out of his mother who had to have her teeth pulled.
46. Unidentified Photographer
EASTMAN THEATRE WHEN IT OPENED
George Eastman built the Eastman Theatre in Rochester, N.Y., “for the enrichment of community life.” It opened on September 4, 1922 as a venue for silent films, which were shown with live orchestral accompaniment. In the late 1920s, as the silent film era ended, it was used for classical concerts. It is no longer a movie theatre but today the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performs many concerts there.
47. William Carter
GEORGE EASTMAN AND THE ABBOTTS IN SENECA PARK
Eastman also donated land for public parks around Rochester such as Cobbs Hill and Durand-Eastman Park near Lake Ontario. In this photograph Eastman was showing some undeveloped parkland to some friends.
48. Unidentified Photographer
GEORGE EASTMAN WITH HIS FAMILY
Clockwise from bottom right: George Eastman, his niece Ellen Dryden holding her grandson, Joseph Moller Jr., Eastmanís great niece, Ellen Dryden Moller and her father, George Dryden. How does Eastman look to you? During the last two years of his life, he was not well.
GEORGE EASTMAN'S SUICIDE NOTE "TO MY FRIENDS/ MY WORK IS DONE WHY WAIT?"
March 14, 1932
Eastman had a painful disease and there was no cure. He wanted to control how he died. When he was 77 he committed suicide in his bedroom. He placed a folded towel over his chest and shot himself with an automatic Luger. The note he left said: “To my friends. My work is done, why wait?”
NEWSPAPER ANNOUNCING GEORGE EASTMAN'S DEATH
March 15, 1932
Rochester and the rest of the world were shocked and saddened when it became known that the man, who had done and given so much, was gone.
GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE - MUSEUM'S MAIN ENTRANCE
After Eastman died the University of Rochester inherited his mansion. They used the house as a home for the university president. After ten years the president moved to a smaller house and the mansion was empty. A group of Kodak executives and Rochester residents obtained the house from the University of Rochester in order to open a photography museum as a memorial to George Eastman. On November 9, 1949, the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House opened.
GALLERY AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film collects, preserves, and exhibits photographs.
TECHNOLOGY DISPLAY FROM THE COLLECTIONS AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
As well as, cameras, photographic and film equipment, and motion picture films.
DISCOVERY ROOM AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
There is a Discovery Room on the second floor of the house where visitors can do activities to learn more about photography and motion pictures.
DRYDEN THEATRE AT GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
The Dryden Theatre was added to the house in 1950. It seats over 500 people, and is dedicated to showing films to the public on a nightly basis.
GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE
The museum also includes George Eastman’s restored mansion, an important Rochester and national landmark. It stands as a memorial to Eastman, the Father of Popular Photography, who made using a camera as convenient and easy as using a pencil.