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The photographs contained in this collection represent a cross-section of Alvan Harper's Tallahassee-based work from 1885 through the first decade of the twentieth century. They show Floridians in the capital city at work and play and record Tallahassee-area homes and turn-of-the-century fashions.
With the development of glass-plate photography in the nineteenth century, the camera began to assume an increasingly important role in recording for posterity not only studio-based subjects and landmark events, but also commonplace happenings, street scenes, and rural settings. Photographers learned how to move out of their studios and into the surrounding countryside in order to capture and record on glass-plate negatives the essence of a now-vanished lifestyle.
Unknown numbers of these fragile negatives have been destroyed or lost over the years, including many taken by Harper. By pure chance, several thousand of his negatives were discovered in a Tallahassee attic in 1946, and these became the Alvan S. Harper Collection, on which this exhibit is based.
This exhibit was prepared for the Museum of Florida History by the Florida State Archives.