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Significant Photographic Collections
OTTOMAR JARECKI (1850-1931) & AMELIA JARECKI (1851-1918)
Ottomar Jarecki was the first of six children of August and Julie Jarecki. August Jarecki emigrated from Posen (Prussia) in 1848. One of the first two graduates of Erie High School, Ottomar Jarecki worked as a jeweler in his father’s store–AUGUST JARECKI JEWELERS, at 622 State Street. After his father retired, he became manager of the jewelry business, including the Photo Department. The Jarecki jewelry store stocked lenses, shutters, and other components to make or modify a camera, coated glassplate negatives and slides, developing paper and other necessary supplies. Ottomar Jarecki met Amelia von Buseck in the early 1880s. She was from Millcreek, the daughter of Lewis von Buseck. They were married in 1883. Ottomar and Amelia Jarecki were one of the earliest couples in Erie considered to be professional photographers. Amelia Jarecki was an avid chess and bridge player. She traveled to Europe to play. Her husband would accompany her, taking pictures and working as a watchmaker. Ottomar Jarecki also published articles on the chemical processes of photography. He was an Associate member of the Erie Art Club. On occasion he prepared programs for the Art Club including:”The Pan American Exposition As Seen Through the Lens”. Amelia Jarecki photographed local and international scenes with her husband. The Jarecki Collection of glassplate negatives totals 131 plates, many 8×10 in size. Subjects include family members, many images of commercial and municipal architecture, harbor activity, the Bayfront, the Peninsula, Walnut Creek and other nature scenes.
Charles B. Hall (1865-1966), was a druggist who worked with his father at the family drug store at 620 State Street, Erie, PA., until his father’s death in 1907. C. B. Hall married Emily Adell Hall in 1889. They had a son, Kenneth, and a daughter, Alice. Although photography was an avocation, Charles B. Hall had the opportunity to obtain the chemistry necessary to experiment and produce the images he wanted. Hall photographed many scenes including the street markets, cyclists, local architecture, street views, people, the Centennial Celebration in a number of formats including 4×5 and 5×7 glassplate negatives. Many stereoview negatives, dryplates on glass, also were produced. A selection of portraits and other topics have been printed and are available for viewing. A finding aid for the collection is available on site.
Francis J. Bassett (1845-1933) was the son of Stephen and Jane (Jory) of St. Veep, Cornwall, England, one of 14 children in the family. He moved to the United States from England with his family in 1851 when he was 6 years old. He married Dorinda Edna Nichols (1850-1903), on Nov. 2, 1870 in Waterford, PA. Their daughter Florence Bassett was born in 1871. In 1872 Francis J. Bassett began a photography business with C. E. Wilbur of Cleveland in Waterford, PA. Wilbur & Bassett moved to Erie, PA and set up their studio on North Park Row. By 1876, Bassett had taken over the business. The studio was eventually moved to 728 State Street, Erie, PA. In 1880 Edmund Nichols, Dorinda’s brother, was working in the photography business and living with Francis, Dorinda, her mother Tryphena (Snow) Nichols and their daughter Florence Bassett. F. J. Bassett closed the business following his wife’s death in 1903. Florence Bassett donated his negatives to the Historical Society, following F. J. Bassett’s death in 1933. The collection consists of wet-plate and dry plate negatives in 4×5, 5×7, 8×10, and 11×14 formats. A majority of the 11,495 glassplate negatives are studio portraits; 200 negatives consist of images of architecture, residences, and individuals outside the studio.