W. L. Worley Photographic Collection
Historical Information & Other Projects
     My Great-Great Grandfather's name was Willis L. Worley. He was a general store manager, school director, and farmer, but was also well-known as a professional photographer. He practiced the art of photography, from the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, during which time he took thousands of photographs of local residents, family members, and school students. He spent his early years apprenticing in York, Pennsylvania, after which he returned to York Springs, PA, where he worked with local photographer H.J. Harman. Before long, Willis began to mark his own photographs with the familiar stamped signature of "W.L. Worley". This collection consists of my Great-Great Grandfather's photographic equipment, the photographs he took, and the memories he preserved. Please enjoy the W.L. Worley Photographic Collection.

Photographs of the Photographer,
Willis L. Worley


W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - E & H.T. Anthony & Co. Camera
E & H.T. Anthony & Co. Camera

     Willis Worley's professional camera from the late 1800s. It was made by E & H.T. Anthony & Co. of 591 Broadway, New York. Four patent dates marked on the camera range from the years 1884 to 1888. The camera includes the original camera box along with a brown photographer's cloth, a light-proof plate holder so that exposed plates could safely and easily be transported to a darkroom without fear of damaging the photographs, a small piece of paper with handwritten notes on focal length, and an even smaller almanac for the year 1904. It is interesting to note that the plate holder is somewhat heavy, leading to the conclusion that it may contain one or two glass plates.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Photographer's Chair
Photographer's Chair

     This is a Photographic Posing Chair, also known as a Photographer's Chair. Willis acquired the chair from photographer H.J. Harman of York Springs. The chair was made in the late 1800s by George Knell and marked as #3. What makes it a photographer's chair is the adjustable back, which is able to be moved up or down to accomodate different sizes of people. Included in this gallery are several original photographs of the chair in use.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Portraits - Unique
Unique Photos

     Of the thousands of photographs taken during Willis's career as a professional photographer, only a fraction of that number are known to exist. Presented here are several photographs from the collection, chosen for their uniqueness in pose, style, and/or composition.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Portraits - Men
Photos of Men

     While it is impossible to present every photograph taken by Willis, this group, as well as the following three groups, contain portraits taken in his studio. This gallery contains portraits of men. Almost every photograph is unlabeled and unmarked except for the familiar photographer's stamp, "W. L. Worley" Any identifications are welcome and appreciated.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Portraits - Women
Photos of Women

     This gallery contains portraits of women from all different age groups. In several of the photographs, it is interesting to note the extravagant hats.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Portraits - Children
Photos of Children

     Willis took many student photographs as part of his career. Some students were fortunate enough to receive discounts if they held a special certificate, cutting the cost of a photo to nearly half-price (see paper materials collection, below, for a copy of the certificate).

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Portraits - Infants
Photos of Infants

     Infants and children were often presented much the same as adults, often using robes or blankets to make the child appear larger than he/she truly was. This gave the infant a greater presence in the photograph.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Glass Plate Negatives - 1903
Glass Plate Negatives

     Found wrapped in a newspaper dated 1903, this small number of original glass plate negatives have been preserved by photographing the illuminated negatives and then digitally recreating and color-correcting the positive images. It is unknown as to why these particular photographs were kept together. Only the two group photos with the barn in the background are identifiable. Both the original negatives and the finished photos are provided for comparison.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Paper Materials
Paper Materials Collection

     Few paper materials still exist, some advertising his photography business, some from his earlier endeavors, and others which fall into miscellaneous categories.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Portraits - W. L. Worley
Early Photographs of Willis Worley

     Contained within this gallery are early photographs of the photographer and his family, several of which were taken long before Willis began practicing the art of photography.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - Contact Print Frame
Contact Print Frame

     Made by Scovill Mfg. Co. in New York, this piece of equipment is known as a contact print frame. It was used for the reproduction of glass or film negatives. Inside the frame, the negative was placed directly against photographic contact paper. The wooden back was then closed and the metal brackets turned to lock the back tightly into place. The dial on the back reminded the photographer how long an exposure was needed. A cut-out photograph is attached to the front of the frame, most likely to create a vignette effect on the finished photo. Included in this gallery are two unidentified photos, taken by H. J. Harman of York Springs, showing the effect that would have been produced.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - The Photographic Dry Plate
The Photographic Dry Plate

     One of the most popular mediums for the taking of photographs during the late 1800s was the photographic dry plate. Here is a small collection of dry glass plates from The Stanley Dry Plate, The American Dry Plate Co., The Standard Dry Plate Co., and The Hammer Dry Plate Co.

W. L. Worley Photographic Collection - The Photographer's Mark
The Photographer's Mark

     Willis's mark was often in the form of a stamp, though it was also known to be hand-written on the photograph. The mark almost always consisted of "W. L. Worley" in cursive letters. Found on the back of a photograph among others in the collection, the mark to the left is unknown. It remains to be seen whether it was, or was not, a mark of Willis L. Worley.