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George K. Warren

Time Period: 
1860-1884
Location: 
Lowell, Cambridgeport, Boston
Biography: 

(1824-1884)

George K. Warren of Lowell, Cambridgeport, and Boston belonged to the generation of photographic portraitists who began business creating daguerreotypes and transitioned to paper media on the eve of the Civil War. Known to photographic historians as the inventor of the photo-illustrated college yearbook (Rutgers, class of 1860), Warren became a significant celebrity photographer after moving his studio to Boston in 1870. Influenced by the work of Gurney & Son and C.D. Fredricks of New York, his performing arts imagery constituted only a small portion of Warren's business, which included landscape, architectural, civic portraiture, and collegiate class photography-in this last enterprise the Pach Brothers proved his stiffest competition.

Warren during the 1860s and 70s presided over a studio at Cambridgeport that served as headquarters for his work processing school photography. He opened a general portrait studio in Boston located at 145 Tremont Street, supervised by Sumner B. Heald (1835-1900). Heald oversaw the performing arts portraiture that appeared under the Warren brand. Heald, like Warren, had learned photography in the daguerreotype era, heading a studio in Manchester, New Hampshire before the outbreak of the Civil War. In the period after the war he formed a partnership with [George?] Boynton who ran a studio at 813 Washington Street producing "Heliograph Prints" of great finish, delicacy, and clarity. Warren hired him away in late spring of 1870. Heald initiated the removal of Warren's studio to 289 Washington Street in 1872 and remained in charge until 1874 receiving name credit on the images he took. He then joined J. McCormack in a partnership at a studio at 22 Winter Street. At the 12th Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association in Boston (1874) Heald & McCormack won a bronze medal for "general excellence in posing the figure, print and finishing"; George K. Warren also won a bronze for "a large collection of cabinets of celebrated authors, actors, etc.," that Heald had shot before departing.

Heald's place as chief cameraman was taken by a young man he personally trained, Charles Conly. Warren's Studio had migrated to 465 Washington during Conly's management. Warren's interest narrowed to the commercial aspects of the studio during Conly's stewardship.

NOTES: Shannon Thomas Perich, "Photography Changes how we Choose to Recast Experience," http://www.click.si.edu/Story.aspx?story=771. Patricia H. Rodgers, Charles Sullivan & the Cambridge Historical Commission, A Photographic History of Cambridge (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984). "Photography in Boston," The Photographic Times 6 (1879), 42. David S. Shields/ALS