Plate glass photos (circa 1905) of Pike Township, Marion County, Indiana life
Great news.  I have just completed the process of photographing the Stevens glass plate collection.   These plates were found in the basement of Maxine Steven’s house by her son J.K.   He recently loaned them to me so that I could “digitize ’em”.

The photographer may have been Maxine Steven’s grandfather Wiley who lived near West 71st and Zionsville Road (now Park 100).
Please forward this link  (to the glass plate negative slide show) to anyone who might enjoy seeing these pictures.   Lots of school class photos, some New Augusta buildings, and a great photo of the NEW Bethel Methodist Church on 52nd. Since it was built in 1905 that is my general guess for when these pictures were taken.
There are few “named” photos but there is a Geo. Hollingsworth barn depicted, as well as a Kissel family barn.   But I don’t know where these barns were located.   Lots of Pike School #9 photos (high school).     It would be really neat if we could identify some of these folks.   Please have people contact me at this email address if they can help.   I will be bringing a small collection of prints to the October 30 event.
This has been great fun and I am indebted to J.K. for providing me with so much entertainment.  And not a single plate broke!
In case anyone asks, the process for getting from the negative to these images did not involve traditional photo developing baths or solutions.   It was entirely dry!    I used a white screen on my computer (like a light box) and carefully laid the negative onto the computer screen in a “dark” room (just a windowless closet).      This provided backlighting that was sufficient to illuminate the plate.   I mounted my digital camera on a tripod and photographed the 4″ x 6″ plates first, then I readjusted the tripod and photographed the 5″ x 7″ images.   Then I removed the memory card from the camera, inserted it into my computer and reversed all of the images (to make them positive) using photo editing software.   This really didn’t take more than a few hours.   A lot faster than manually printing each one in a real wet darkroom with the three baths of developer, toner and fixer.   Once the images were filed on my computer it took five minutes to upload them to the internet.    They are in two separate slide shows.   There are some duplicates and that is unintentional.   The original photographer probably took about five minutes between each photo (because of the time required to remove the glass plate from the camera, carefully store it, unwrap the next negative plate and insert into the camera etc.)
One interesting observation about plate glass photography, it was on its way out in 1905.   George Eastman had invented roll film in 1885 that could be taken to a photo lab (like an apothecary) and developed professionally.    An amateur photographer taking pictures with plate glass in 1905 was a serious and devoted hobbyist or a professional.   It was not a casual device or a toy that anyone can operate (like the one I used to take the pictures of the negatives!)


About Ross Reller

I am pleased you have expressed interest in learning more about the historic Traders Point area in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1980 to 1982 I was employed in the PR department at Conner Prairie Museum in Hamilton County. There I learned about William Conner, an important figure in Indiana's pioneer days. A decade later I became interested in the history of the Traders Point area and was surprised to learn that William Conner had been the first land owner in the area. In 1823 he acquired, through the Federal land office in Brookville, a patent for an 80 acre tract carved by Eagle Creek and an Indian trail that was about to be named the first toll roadway through the township (Lafayette Road). Thirty years later a village took shape within this tract. A grain mill on the creek, houses, churches, stores, restaurants, and two gas stations would take shape here in the creek valley hamlet of Traders Point. By 1962 all improvements (except a farmer's co-op) had been removed by the Indianapolis Flood Control Board to make way for Interstate 65 and a new reservoir. This blog is dedicated to preserving evidence of this historic area but I will occasionally use it to discuss related topics. To activate this follow, simply click the confirm button below. If you don't want to follow, ignore this message and we'll never bother you again. I am also a member of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a non profit association still selling burial plots for those who would like to spend all eternity in Traders Point, and I am an officer in the Pike Township Historical Society and the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods.
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3 Responses to Plate glass photos (circa 1905) of Pike Township, Marion County, Indiana life

  1. Jim says:

    Very, very cool.

  2. Sherry says:

    Love the pictures. Really gives a glimpse into the life over 100 years ago.
    I enjoyed looking at them and reading about your process in bringing them to us.

  3. Linda says:

    I was born in Trader’s Point in 1955. We lived there until I was about 12 years-old. I long to see photos of the town from this period. The only photo I have is a flood photo. I am sure there must be photos available. Does anyone know how I might get some copies?

    Thank you,

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