Here’s a photo that was included in a collection of 338 glass plate negatives, 1 antique dental tool, and 13 lantern slides donated by Dr. John A. Weaver Jr. in 1991. The glass plate negatives included in this donation depict the Weaver family’s house, dental office, and various trips to Estes Park and all around the country in the early 1900s. This particular photo depicts Dr. John A. Weaver Sr. and his wife Emma Cecile Rochat Weaver a few years after they were married on June 1, 1900. Dr. Weaver Sr. was a dentist whose practice in Greeley began in 1897. He and his wife had four children: Marian, Frances, Helen, and John Jr. John Jr. became a dentist and eventually took over his father’s practice in the 1950s.
I first came across this photo when I was going through an old box in the Exhibits Office. The box contained remnants of a 1995 exhibit called “Greeley Then and Now” featuring prints made by AIMS photography students from the museum’s photographic negatives collection.
I giggled when I first saw it because it’s a mirror “selfie” taken about 100 years before the “selfie” really gained popularity. But, as I studied the picture more, I realized why I liked it so much; it captures the affection that Dr. John and Emma Cecile had for each other, which is a rare thing to see in an era when most portraits were stiffly posed with stoic or even frowning expressions. I like it because it gives a glimpse into the everyday life of a real family at a time when this type of casual, whimsical, romantic picture was rare. This whole collection of glass plate negatives is a good illustration of just how photography became more commonplace in the early 1900s as cameras became easier to afford and transport.
Greeley’s first “selfie?” Well, we don’t know for certain. But it’s always nice to imagine.
The picture is a print of a Glass Plate Negative from our collection. Its number is Greeley Museums Permanent Collection #1991.56.0293. Thank you to the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center team for digitizing this photo!
If you would like to view the Weaver Family Photo Collection, or other resources pertaining to the history of Weld County, please visit the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center at the Greeley History Museum. Call 970-336-4187 to make an appointment today!
Written by: Holly Berg, Museum Assistant