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About this collection


The Hughes Company was a commercial photography studio in Baltimore, MD founded by James F. Hughes, circa 1878. Business was good for Hughes, and the studio thrived into the 1890's. After his death in the early 1900's, the company was sold to his studio assistant, photographer James W. Scott. James Scott was very successful at the helm of the studio, producing advertising photographs for diverse clients such as Westinghouse Company and the Baltimore Sun, as well as local businesses, and school and church groups. The glass negatives in this digital collection were created during his tenure. In 1939, he trained his son, Gaither Scott, in photography and operation of the studio. Gaither Scott later took over the studio and eventually moved the company to Annapolis in the 1970's, where he retired and finally closed the business. He divided up the collection and gave the Hughes Company negatives to three different institutions, including UMBC, the Maryland Historical Society and the Peale Museum. The bulk of the approximately 3,000 images UMBC received depict Baltimore and environs, street scenes, promotional and advertising photographs, businesses, churches, schools, monuments, factories, machinery, portraits and signs. The photographs were created circa 1905-1940 and were made with an 8x10 inch view camera.

Getting the collection online

The creation of the Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection digital collection was the culmination of several years of collaboration between the Special Collections, Bibliographic & Metadata Services (BMS), and Web Services departments of the Library. The Special Collections has stewarded the original Hughes Company Glass Negatives since the mid 1970's, by rehousing, providing minimal description and a basic finding aid, storing, preserving, and making accessible the images. In 2009, Special Collections staff trained student assistants to properly scan the glass negatives according to preservation standards, and to create basic metadata. Initially, the images were not well identified. BMS staff joined the project to establish descriptive metadata for the images. The decision was made to exclude certain images from the online collection, including photographs of such items as: oil paintings, pages in books, blueprints, documents, and maps. By 2010, all of the glass negatives were digitized. At the end of 2011, BMS staff had completed all descriptive metadata, including the creation of a local authority file with terms for Baltimore related materials. Copy catalogers used Polk's Baltimore City Directory for 1923 to verify or add some information in Description field, especially personal names, business names, street addresses or locations. The Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery Digital Collections Team plans to produce an online exhibit based on the collection.

How you can contribute information about the images

Do you recognize someone in the photographs? Do you know about one of the locations? Can you identify a piece of equipment? If you have information that you would like to share about any of the images in the Hughes Collection, please email, or click the Feedback button on the Digital Collections homepage: Your contribution will help enrich the collection for future researchers. We are grateful for your input!


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Related resources

  • The rest of the Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection can be viewed at Special Collections. A printed finding aid is available.
  • UMBC also owns the Hughes Company Cirkut Negatives Collection, comprised of 457 panoramic views taken between 1916 and 1949, including Baltimore and surrounding areas, industrial parks, military installations, city skylines, group portraits, trains, and much more. Items can be viewed at Special Collections. A printed finding aid is available, as well as exhibit catalogs from the 1986 exhibition, Extended Views of Maryland: Hughes Company Panoramic Photographs, Special Collections, Bafford Collection, TR661 .A53 1986.
  • Growing Baltimore is a project carried out by UMBC Public History graduate students, Aiden Faust, Ryan McCormick and Trisha Okine, who created an online exhibit using images from the Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection to illustrate expansion and development of Baltimore City from 1918-1939.
  • The Maryland Historical Society holds a large collection of Hughes Company images in their Hughes Collection and Hughes Studio Photograph Collection, some of which are available online.
  • A portion of UMBC's Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection can be viewed on Flickr:
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