Knox County played an important part in the early development and growth of commercial photography through the innovations of Hamilton Smith and Peter Neff at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Their work led to the development of the tintype of the mid-1800's. Excellent examples of photographic art were also produced by students in the Kenyon Camera Club throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century.
Many other photographers have been in business here from the end of the Civil War to the present day.
Among our early photographers was Fred Crowell, who produced a wide variety of photographic images and styles beginning in the 1860's, including his popular stereoscopic views of Knox County in the 1870’s and '80's that are now highly prized by collectors.
Among the other well-established Mount Vernon photographers of the late 1800's were John Burkholder, A.B. Elliott, the Oldroyds, H.H. Payne, C.C. Ward, and many others. Photographers were at work from the 1850's onward in our smaller communities as well, including Bladensburg, Centerburg, Fredericktown, Gambier, Millwood and Rosstown. After 1900 we see even more studios opening or succeeding earlier establishments.
Several of our more recent photographers and their families have generously donated excellent examples of their work to our Museum. Hundreds of area photographs by Louis Copits document many noteworthy events from the 1940's and '50's, including scenes of local soldiers preparing to leave for service in World War II. And the many prints made of Contractor, Sam Clark, and his crews, document his house moving expertise in the early 1900's.
Beautiful prints of downtown businesses, local homes, and prominent citizens have been donated to us by John Seavolt, Gary Hewitt and Beverly McKinstry, and many examples from the Garverick and Israel Studios grace our files. James Israel’s outstanding color work was featured in his prints for local and national advertisers and in his famous work for General Motors and the automobile industry.
No doubt the longest practicing photographer in Knox County is Virgil Shipley, who has served as staff photographer at The Mount Vernon News since 1955, recording both ordinary and extraordinary events here for more than 60 years.
And finally, we are fortunate to have the photographic services of KCHS Trustees, Ken McCandless and Janet Jacobs, who have provided many excellent images for Society publications and this website.