Summary Information
Title: Spencer Family Photograph Collection
Collection Number: AIS.1990.07
Creator: Spencer family

Collection Dates: 1896-1911
Extent: 1275.0 items (9 photograph albums)

Language: English

Abstract:
The collection comprises nine photograph albums consisting of 1,275 photographs taken between 1896 and 1911. The photographs primarily show the Spencer Family at their Shadyside, Pittsburgh (Pa.) home located at 719 Amberson Avenue and on vacation in the eastern United States. Digital reproductions of selected images are available online.
Publisher:

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
412-648-3232
archives-ref@mail.pitt.edu
Date Published:

March 2009
Author:

Finding aid prepared by Renee Ziemann.
Revision Description:
October 2009:
Miriam Meislik

Biography

Headed by Charles Hart Spencer (1852-1950), a sales agent for industrialist,Henry Clay Frick, the Spencer Family lived in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Charles Spencer was married to Mary Acheson Spencer (1836-1950) and had seven children: Adeline Spencer Curry (1884-1984); Kate Spencer (1886-1961); Ethel Spencer (1889-1966); Mark Spencer (1892-1975); Mary Spencer (1893-1971); Charles Spencer (1895-1976); and Elizabeth Spencer Blue (1895-1976). The Spencer family background included Pittsburgh store owners Joseph Wilber and Anna Eliza Spencer, on the paternal side, and prominent judge, Marcus Acheson, on the maternal. Shadyside was a fairly rural community when the Spencer family children were growing up during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. While the family earned a better than average income, they also had a larger than average family. They lived comfortably, but it was not without sacrifices in order to do so. Due to their family size, they employed more servants than the average middle class family. They also spent little money on luxuries like the theater. The children wore hand-me-downs that were mainly made within the family. The Spencer Family focus was on education, music, and religion. Mrs. Spencer was a dominant force in the household who strongly encouraged all of her children to attend college. Mrs. Spencer earned a BA from the Pennsylvania College for Women, distinguising her from other middle class women of the time.


Collection Scope and Content Notes

The collection comprises nine photograph albums consisting of 1,275 photographs taken between 1896 and 1911. The photographs primarily show the Spenser Family at their Shadyside, Pittsburgh (Pa.) home located at 719 Amberson Avenue and on vacation in the eastern United States. Charles Spencer's family photographs are an intimate document of middle class family life in Pittsburgh. Beyond this, they are a creative body of work that reflects Spencer's artistry and sensitivity. His carefully composed photographs with their attention to detail also demonstrate his mastery of the technical dimensions of photography, serving as a pictorialist view of late nineteenth and early twentieth century family life.


Arrangement

The photographs in this collection were arranged by the Spencer family in their nine original albums.


Subject Terms

Topics
  • Families -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Pictorial works
  • Merchants -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History

Personal Names
  • Blue, Elizabeth Spencer, b. 1895
  • Curry, Adeline Spencer, 1884-1984
  • Spencer, Charles Hart, 1852-1912
  • Spencer, Charles, 1895-1976
  • Spencer, Ethel
  • Spencer, Kate, 1886-1961
  • Spencer, Mark, 1892-1975
  • Spencer, Mary Acheson, 1863-1950

Locations
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Genealogy
  • Shadyside (Pittsburgh, Pa.) -- Genealogy

Category
  • Personal papers

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Alternate Format:

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at http://digital.library.pitt.edu/images/pittsburgh/spencer.html.

Preferred Citation:

Spencer Family Photograph Collection, 1896-1911, AIS.1991.07, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Copyright:

No copyright restrictions.

Bibliography:

  • Spencer, Ethel. The Spencers of Amberson Avenue: A Turn of the Century Memoir. Edited by Michael P. Weber and Peter N. Stearns. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 1983.
  • “Pittsburgh Revealed: photographs since 1850 / introduction by Jan Beatty,” Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Art, 1997.
  • “Picturing Childhood,” A Carnegie Museum of Art exhibition, 2006-2007.
  • Leonard, John William. Woman’s who’s who of America: a biographical dictionary of contemporary women of the United States and Canada. v.1. The American Commonwealth Company. 1914.
  • Pitz, Marylynn. “Pictures of childhood: Carnegie photo exhibit paints portrait of family life,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Now retrieved on May 12, 2009 from http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07324/835253-42.stm.


Collection Inventory

Box 1
Volume 1 Volume 1, September 1896-June 1898 ((192 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family at home in Pittsburgh and in Sea Girt, New Jersey (August 1897).


Box 2
Folder 2 Volume 2, July 1898-March 1900 ((313 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family in Pittsburgh; Twighlight Park in the Catskill Mountains of New York (July 1898); and in Sea Girt, New Jersey (July 1899).


Box 3
Folder 3 Volume 3, November 1899-June 1902 ((232 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family at home in Pittsburgh; Sea Girt, New Jersey (August 1900); and Twilight Park in the Catskill Mountains of New York (August 1901).


Box 4
Folder 4 Volume 4, August 1901-October 1903 ((222 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family visit to Twighlight Park in the Catskill Mountians of New York (August 1901, July 1902, and August 1903) with a few views of the family at home in Pittsburgh.


Box 5
Folder 5 Volume 5, November 1903-July 1905 ((41 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family at home in Pittsburgh with some views of Sea Girt, New Jersey (July 1904).


Box 6
Folder 6 Volume 6, July 1905-September 1906 ((110 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family visit to South Yarmouth, Massachusetts (July-September 1905); Ashland and Bethlehem, New Hampshire to attend the wedding of a member of the MacBeth family of Pittsburgh and a visit to the MacBeth home (September 1905). Also contained in the album are photographs dated September 1906 without day or location information.


Box 7
Folder 7 Volume 7, March 1906-May 1907 ((62 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer Family in Pittsburgh.


Box 8
Folder 8 Volume 8, Summer 1907 ((27 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family in Marion, Massachusetts including a postcard of the "dontaldson Doorway" in Edgartown, Massachusetts.


Box 9
Folder 9 Volume 9, 1907-1911 ((76 photographic images))

Photographs of the Spencer family in Marion and South Yarmouth, Massachusetts (summer 1907); Bass Rocks, Massachusetts (summer 1908) and the Taylor Farm ( July 1910); and in Pittsburgh.