Manuscript Group 802, William F. Cone (1874-1966), Commercial photographer Business records and negatives, 1880s-1966

Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 802, William F. Cone (1874-1966), Commercial photographer
Business records and negatives, 1880s-1966, 1 linear foot of records and 9,400 images
Call Number: MG 802 + Box, Folder, and Image number


Over 9,000 glass plate and film-based negatives; ledgers, daybooks, order books, appointment books, and lists of negatives of William F. Cone, a commercial photographer from Newark, New Jersey.

Scope and Content Note:

William F. Cone (1873-1966) was one of the earliest commercial photographers in Newark, NJ. This collection documents commerce, architecture, transportation and industry in Newark, New Jersey and the surrounding area during the early 20th century. It consists of over 9000 glass plate negatives (8×10, 11×14, 5×7 & 4×5); film based negatives, and slides. In addition there are several ledgers relating to Cone’s business. The collection consists of six major subject areas which include: transportation, architecture, commercial enterprises, industrial images, institutions and people and railroad cars and marine vessels produced by the American Car & Foundry Co., Wilmington, DE.

The transportation series includes images of railroads, automobiles, public transport, horse-drawn carriages, and marine vessels. There are also negatives of Cone’s work for the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR, 1910-1940s), railroad stations, yards, and docks, and the Morris Canal. The architecture series consists of house plans, interior and exterior images of houses and businesses and construction sites. The commercial enterprises series consists of commercial street scenes, retail business in Newark and throughout Essex County, banks, insurance companies diaries and department stores. Also included are many images of hardware, drugstore and department store window displays (1910-1930) advertising products such as tools, asbestos, medicine and hygiene items. The industry images include the factories, foundries and laboratories used to produce electrical equipment, industrial machinery, burial vaults, stoves and other products or machinery. The series of institutional and people-related images documents the charitable, health care, educational, government and religious institutions, of mostly Newark and Essex County, NJ. Included are many images of students learning trades in the Essex County Vocational School system (1920s-1950s). There is also a large series of images of railroad cars and marine vessels produced by the American Car & Foundry Co., Wilmington DE. (1913-1929). The cars were produced for railroad companies in the United States, South America, Asia, Central America and Cuba.

Towns represented in the collection include Newark, South Orange, West Orange, Orange, Montclair, Bloomfield, Jersey City, and elsewhere in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Prints of Cone’s images are available in MG 1361 and MG 1362 Item level inventory available.

WILLIAM F. CONE BUSINESS RECORDS, 1902-1959 1 In. ft. MG 802.

Arranged chronologically.

Business records of Newark commercial photographer, William F. Cone. Collection includes order books, cash books, ledgers, daybooks, and cash journals. The records contain listings of some photographs taken, payments and lists of commercial clients. Includes listings of clients and some of the photographs included in the photograph part of this collection. Also, includes a pamphlet owned by Cone, titled “The Chemistry of Photography” published in 1932 by Mallinckrodt Chemical Works.


Many of the images described below in Series #1-#6 easily overlap with other series. The following descriptions are divided for ease of use, but should not be seen as completely separate from other parts of the collection.

Series 1: Transportation, 1890s-1950s. 1661 images.

This series documents the evolution of transportation (railroads, automobiles, public transport, horse drawn carriages, marine and others) in New Jersey between the end of the 19th century and the mid-20th century. Glass plates and film-based negatives relating to transportation and the railroad industry include images of damaged automobiles, trucks and buses, Studebakers, Hupmobiles, roadways, 19th century salvagecorps of firelighters, many commercial trucks, the Newark City Subway under construction, Morris Canal scenes, auto safety scenes, horse carts, airplanes, and other images.

Working for many insurance agencies. Cone photographed hundreds of damaged automobiles mostly during the 1920s and 1930s. There are also many images of new automobiles and automobile dealer show rooms. The collection has many images of gas stations and auto repair or auto body shops.

Railroad related material includes extensive images of railroad cars, tracks and stations produced by Cone for the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR, 1910-1940s). Cone was contracted by the LVRR to photograph many sites over a thirty year period. Other railroads represented include the Erie Railroad, the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ), the Delaware, Lackawanna and Wilmington Railroad (DLWRR). Included are images of train cars, freight cars, trolley tracks and cars, buses, tugboats, piers, dredge vessels (Wilmington DE.), lighter vessels, diesel switchers, coal yard hoppers, station houses, hacks, and coal dumpers. There are several images related to the Public Service Trolley system in Newark and nearby towns. Stations or yards included are Washington Ave. Yard; Grand Street Terminal; Communipaw Terminal; Jersey City Freight Yard; Oak Island Terminal; Perm Station, Newark; and Penn Station New York. It also includes towns in Pennsylvania and New York. There are images of the following New Jersey towns: Newark, Jersey City, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth, Montclair, South Orange, Clark (Picton), Manville, Plainfield, Keamy, Roselle, Ridgefield Park, Cranford, Springfield and others.

See also Series 6 (American Car & Foundry Co./Jackson & Sharp railroad car and marine vessel builders, Wilmington DE.), and see Series #3 (the Commercial Enterprise series, especially city street views).

Series 2: Architecture, 1900-1960s. 1230 items.

This series documents commercial and residential styles of architecture and construction methods in Newark, South Orange, East Orange and elsewhere in Essex County and New Jersey mostly in the first three decades of the 20th Century. Negatives relating to architecture in the Cone Collection include architectural plans, various types of residential housing, house interiors, commercial buildings, and construction sites. Cone’s clients for these images included architects, real estate agents, insurance companies, homeowners, businesses and others.

The collection includes a series of floor plans for houses and house sketches (1911), houses on city or suburban blocks, commercial architecture, apartment buildings, tenements, row-houses, garages, and house interiors, including parlors and dining rooms. Images such as stairways, sidewalks, hallways, telephone poles and broken windows were used for insurance claims. There are several images of individual or multiple commercial businesses. Disaster photographs include the wreck of a steel building housing new cars, the Synder Fire (a commercial block’in downtown Newark, 1900) and a downtown fire in Paterson (1902). There are numerous images of construction sites for skyscrapers, businesses, institutions and residential houses, including construction at the Prudential Building (1910), the Fireman’s Insurance Co. building, the YMHA and YWHA (1922), the Holland Tunnel (1926), housing by Edward Waldron Builders, school buildings and the Essex County Court House.

There are also images of rural houses, farmhouses, rural roads, often with billboards, commercial business buildings, storefronts and hotels in Newark. Also included are images of streets filled with pedestrians, many modes of transportation in the early 1900s, views of downtown and other city scenes.

Examples of architecture, of course, can be found throughout the Cone Collection, and especially in Series 3, Commercial Enterprises.

Series 3: Commercial Enterprises, 1890s-1960s. 2000+ images.

This series documents mostly early 20th century commercial life in Newark, Essex County and elsewhere in NJ and includes commercial street scenes, interiors of businesses and offices, storefronts , products and many window displays. Included are many scenes of busy downtown Newark (mostly along Broad Street) with businesses and cars, trolleys, horse-drawn wagons, commercial wagons and trucks, buses and pedestrians. Types of businesses represented that are central or incidental to the image include banks, grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, hotels, lumber companies, drugstores, breweries, greenhouses, shoe stores, an auto laundry (carwash), piano stores, dairies and others. The series includes images of the interiors of businesses, especially insurance companies, banks and real estate offices in Newark (ca. 1900-1910). Products Cone photographed include many sets of bathroom fixtures, rings and other jewelry, ceramic figurines, safes, trunks and arsenate of lead containers. The series also includes advertisements for products, checks and business correspondence.

Cone was a prolific photographer of window displays, mostly for Bannister & Pollard Hardware, Ludlow and Squier Hardware, Leo Hopp’s Drugstore, Hahne’s Department Store, Alexander Forbes Seed Co. and many others. The window displays (1910-ca. 1930) often include several related products or are theme-related (Washington’s Birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.) Products include paint, tools, first aid supplies, feminine hygiene products, laxative castor oil, antiperspirant, vacation toiletries, water coolers, storage batteries, sponges, lawnmowers, hatchets, remedies (patent medicines), insecticide, toothbrushes, clothing, silver dinnerware, asbestos products, rubber products, corsets, razors, clocks, gas ranges, safety locks and many other products.

Specific businesses included in this series are the Prudential Insurance Co., Hahne Department Store, Bambergers Department Store, Claridge Theater (Montclair), Loew Theater (Newark), Tivoli Theater (Newark) Public Service Co., Borden’s Dairy, Newark Gas Co., Macys Department Store (1914) and many others.

Series 4: Industrial Images, 1890s-1960s. 850+ items.

This series documents the work, products, workers and factories used by industrial firms in Newark and New Jersey throughout the first half of the 20th century. Included are images of factories (facades, aerial and interiors), foundries, laboratories, manufacturing companies and other businesses. Included are workers in factories and production areas, including women and a few African-Americans. Cone worked regularly with the Weston Electrical Instrument Co., producers of measuring instruments such as voltmeters, ammeters, vacuum tubes and exposure meters; the Splitdorf Electrical Co., producers of radio receivers, magneto devices, spark plugs and other gadgets for electrical items; the Wilson Co., producers of gas stoves, ranges and ovens; the Borden Farm Product Co., a dairy and dairy machinery user. Images also include machinery such as grinders, stamping machines, polishers, calibrators, cable, pipes, drill presses, scales and other machinery for factories. There are several funeral industry related images, including caskets, cemetery monuments and the process of making cement burial vaults. There are also several images of a water purification plant and views of industries along the Passaic River in Newark.

Companies whose parts or plants are represented include A.W. Faber Rubber Works, Barber Asphalt Co., Carbona Co., Collins Wireless Telegraph Co., DeBevoise Co., Driver-Harris Co., Hay Foundry & Iron Works, Hyatt Roller Bearing Co., Linden Leather Co., Matawan Tile Co., Mono Service Co., National Cash Register Co., Riches, Piver & Co., Schaefer Brewery (Brooklyn, NY), Slocum, Avram & Slocum Laboratory, U.S. Rubber Co., and United Cork Co.

Series 5: Institutions & People. 1890s-1966.1510+ items.

This series documents mostly Newark and Essex County charitable, health care, educational and religious institutions and people in the early 20th century. It includes images of charitable organizations, hospitals, schools, government buildings, churches, portraits of people, parks, and other institutions.

Charitable or similar institutions include the Newark Female Charitable Society, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum, the Goodwill Home & Rescue Mission, the Home for Crippled Children, the Home for the Aged, and the Anti-Saloon League. Hospitals and health-care-related institutions include the Babies’ Hospital, the Homeopathic Hospital, Essex County Hospital, the Clara Maas Hospital, Mecca College of Chiropractic, the Presbyterian Hospital, the Visiting Nurses Association, Orange Memorial Hospital and dental clinics.

Schools include Barringer High School, Seton Hall College, Woods College, New Jersey State College, and St. George’s Hall (Summit). The collection has many images of technical schools, including the Newark Technical School, Irvington Boys’ School and the system of Essex Co. Vocational Schools (in several locations throughout the county). Cone photographed activities in these schools between 1925 and 1955. The images taken at the girls’ schools include students in classes for dressmaking, baking, cooking, typing, hairstyling, library work, dictaphone, nursing, kitchen work, dental assistants, sewing machine use, and telephone operators. The boys’ schools images include students in classes for woodworking, machine shop, baking, commercial art, drill presses, bricklaying, carpentry, auto repair and storage battery work. Also included are several activities of the YMCA (team pictures, sports, classes) and a few golf courses.

Public or government building images include the Essex Co. Court House (interior and exterior, the unveiling of the Lincoln Statue, 1911), a few fire stations or companies. City Hall of Newark, the Newark Public Library and the Newark Museum, with images of librarians, museum specimen tables and two women observing a classically nude male statue in a gallery (1911).

Cone did very little portrait work, but he did take photographs of groups of employees or students, a few photos of the Cone family and a series of pension “mugshots” ofruffled-looking men (1930s?).

There are many images of the interiors and exteriors of churches in the Cone Collection. There are group photographs of African-American members of the Pilgrim Baptist Church (1947) and of the Bethel Pentecostal Church (1950). Also included are images of the construction of Sacred Heart. Other Newark churches include the North Reformed Church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Second Presbyterian Church, House of Prayer, St. Peter’s Church, Church of Our Lady of Sorrow, and the Third Presbyterian Church. Also included are a few scattered images of men climbing to the top of church steeples. The series also includes Branch Brook Park, statues and other park scenes and Mount Pleasant Cemetery images.

Series 6: Railroad cars and marine vessels produced by the American Car & Foundry Co., Jackson & Sharp Plant, (Wilmington, DE), 1880s-1929. 2150+items.

This series documents the production of railroad cars and marine vessels by the Jackson & Sharpe Plant of the American Car & Foundry Co., Wilmington, Delaware mostly between 1913-1929. Images of railroad cars the company produced include wooden and steel open platform cars, baggage cars, refrigerator cars, Pullman cars, railway post offices, sleeping cars, dining cars, engine rooms, parlor cars, box cars, gondola cars, flat cars, four-wheel trucks (the sets of wheels under train cars), underframes, interior furnishings for railroad cars, mantles, moldings and medallions. These products were made for railroad companies in the U.S., South America, Central America, and Cuba. Also included are images of the marine vessels the company produced including tugboats, scows and dredges, and several “named” vessels.

The images include pictures of all classes of railroad car interiors, exteriors, end views and side views; completed cars and cars under construction; drawings or plans for cars; pieces of interior design such as mantles; marine vessels on water or in dry dock; marine vessels under construction; marine vessel parts. The earlier images, made between 1880s-1900 are of marine vessels, while there are extensive railroad images dated ca.1914-1929.

The domestic railroad or railway companies contracting with American Car & Foundry Co. to build cars include Atlanta and Birmingham RR; Baltimore & Ohio RR; Bangor & Aristook RR; Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh RR; Bureau of Mines RR; Burlington & Mount Holly RR; Central of Georgia RR; Central RR of New Jersey; Charleston, Cincinnati & Chicago RR; Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul RR; DuPont Co.; Erie RR; Jacksonville & Atlantic RR; Long Island RR; New York, Ontario & Western RR; Norfolk & Southern RR; Norfolk & Western Southern ExpressRR; Northern Pacific RR; Pennsylvania RR; Piedmont Airlines RR; Raleigh & Southport RR; Richmond & Petersburg Trolley; Syracuse & Suburban RR; and United Fruit Co.RR.

Foreign railroads contracting with the American Car & Foundry Co. include the Andean State Railway; Bolivia Government Railway; Central Cordoba & Buenos Aires; Chiriqui RR; Colombian National Railway; Cuba Northern RR; Cuba Railroad Co.; Deli RR; Estrada de Ferrode Braganca; F.C. (Ferrocarril) del Pacifico; F.C. Central del Peru; F.C. de Antioquoia; F.C. de Cuba; F.C. de la Paz; F.C. de Tachira; F.C. Zaragoza al Mediterraneo; Guantanamo & Western Co.; Guayaquil Quito RR; Havana Central Railway; International Railway; Machacamarca-Bolivia RR; Panama RR; Southern Manchurian Railway; Tientsin Pukow Railway; Umtali Tramways; United Railway of the Yucatan; and many others.

See image list for boxes 1-50,
51-100, 101-150,
151-200, 201-250,
251-300, 301-347.

Processed 1996

Print Friendly, PDF & Email