Lantern and Lens Gild of Women Photographers.

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In 1905, Margaret Bodine and her classmates in Mathilde Weil's photography class at the Drexel Institute, recognizing their shared interest in the art of photography, decided to form a club. Throughout the history of the Lantern and Lens Gild, the club would count many upper-class Philadelphia women as its members including Louisa Rau, wife of Philadelphia photographer William H. Rau. The club would undergo several name changes and moves in the next ten years. The Drexel Camera Club gathered at 24 South 17th Street until 1911, when they moved to 24 South 18th Street and changed their name to The Photographers. This name lasted about a year with the women finally settling on the Lantern and Lens Gild of Women Photographers. However, they continued to move the operations of the club around the city - to 1606 Locust Street (c. 1919), 1203 St. James Street (1920), and 1713 Chancellor Street (1921). During this time membership increased from 18 to almost 60 women, so the Gild relocated to 302 Fuller Building at 10 South 18th Street in 1936. According to its constitution, the purpose of the club was to "promote the art of photography among its members by means of criticisms, lectures, exhibitions, etc." and membership fees were $1 per month. There were leadership positions within the club, consisting of the Dean of the Gild; the Dean; Clerk of Records; Clerk of Letters; and the Steward (later Bursar). The club hosted lectures given by visiting artists; offered classes; participated in exhibitions within the club, at galleries, and other institutions like the John Wanamaker building; and went on pilgrimages. Elias Goldensky, Yarnall Abbott, Richard Dooner, Herbert Pullinger, and Savero Antonelli were some of the artists that they hosted at meetings and events. The members would take pilgrimages to various locations usually around Philadelphia with their cameras and many photographs document these events. The women usually celebrated these outings and their Christmas parties by penning songs and poems. The members' works were recognized in two different ways within the club. First, photographs were chosen on a monthly basis for exhibition in the Gild house. Then several were awarded the four cups at the Annual Exhibition. The cups (e.g., Fowler Cup and Reeves Cup) honored one portrait of an individual, one portrait of a group, one color slide, and one photograph depicting an outdoor scene respectively. In order to expand their facilities, the Gild moved into the New Century Building at 1307 Locust Street in 1946. This building housed the New Century Guild, which was established in 1882 by Eliza Sproat Turner to support women entering the workforce. Its services included classes, lectures, hot lunches served in a dining room for workingwomen, temporary lodging, and emergency financial support. The Gild also began to participate in activities with other camera clubs across the nation. The meeting minutes by the 1960s show that the Lantern and Lens Gild sent delegates to outside meetings, such as the Delaware Valley Council of Camera Clubs. However, this decade also saw a drop in attendance with many of the members growing older and passing away. In May 1965, the ladies decided to discontinue payment of dues, elections of officers, and their regular schedule of activities. Instead, they intended to meet occasionally at the homes of members. Laura Beale wrote to Margaret Smith, president of the New Century Guild, on September 13, 1965 to inform her that the club was discontinuing its almost weekly meetings at 1307 Locust Street.

From the description of Lantern and Lens Gild of Women Photographers, 1904-2004. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 213098826

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Lantern and Lens Gild of Women Photographers. Lantern and Lens Gild of Women Photographers, 1904-2004. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bryn Mawr College. corporateBody
associatedWith Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry. corporateBody
associatedWith Drexel Institute of Technology. corporateBody
associatedWith Drexel University. corporateBody
associatedWith Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith New Century Guild. corporateBody
associatedWith New Century Trust of Philadelphia. corporateBody
associatedWith Rau, William Herman, 1855-1920. person
associatedWith Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946. person
associatedWith Weil, Mathilde, 1872-1943? person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Photography--20th century
Photography--Periodicals--20th century
Outdoor photography--20th century
Photography--Exhibitions--20th century
Art and photography--20th century
Women photographers--20th century
Women--Societies and clubs--20th century
Indoor photography--20th century
Nature photography--20th century
Women photographers--Social life and customs--20th century
Portrait photography--20th century
Wildlife photography--20th century
Black-and-white photography--20th century

Corporate Body

Active 1904

Active 2004

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SNAC ID: 61602993