Cartes de visite of the Dickinson Class of 1868

Ten Members of the Dickinson Class of 1868

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This is a series of eleven black and white/sepia photographs, in the form of cartes de visite. They were created by three “photograph galleries”; C.L. Lochman’s, Mrs. R.A. Smith, and Le Rue Lemer, the first two based in Carlisle, the last in Harrisburg. The date the actual photographs were taken is not listed on their backings, but there are notes and signatures scrawled there—five are dated June 25th, 1868. One is June 19th the same year. Others simply list 1868, or nothing at all.

Based on the personal notes, these were meant to be exchanged between classmates at graduation. They might simply have been taken for the graduates, but friends ended up using them as tradable keepsakes anyway. Their purpose seems commemorative, especially as photographs, while not rare, were still a relatively new technology in 1868.

The items are in stable condition. The photographs are focused and easily distinguishable. They have yellowed slightly with age, but it it entirely possible that the discoloration was there from when they were first developed. The maker’s stamp is clearly legible, as is most of the writing on the backs. If it isn’t, the issue is with the handwriting, not the quality of the ink or paper.


There were thirteen total graduates in the class of 1868, which matches the number on the composite card. This means three photographs are missing, assuming the receiver kept their own portrait, as well. The three missing members according to the Dickinson Alumni Record are Harry Leader Bowman (lower left next to Goucher and Westy), Jesse Bowman Young (upper right below G.D. Chenoweth) and Philip Matthew Lewis (right of Smead).

When I ran “1868” through the Dickinson Archives and Special Collections website, I found this: mtc_0065

This carte is evidence that multiple copies of each portrait were made and distributed. It is also helpful in identifying the photos of the missing members.

Number 9 is listed as B. L. Beck, not Philip Matthew Lewis, the only other member besides Bowman and Young unaccounted for according to the Dickinson Alumni Record. Number 10 is undoubtably Bowman, as I found his portrait in the archives.

Harry Leader Bowman
Harry Leader Bowman

There is no “Beck” in the Alumni record under graduates or non-graduates. There are no comparable names, either. The closest is a non-grad listed as F. W. Biddle, but his other initials rule him out. While it makes sense for Jesse Bowman Young to be number 5, I could only find a picture that doesn’t bear much of a resemblance to the one on the composite carte de visite.

There are no other photographs available online for Philip Matthew Lewis or B. L. Beck, so I cannot confirm if their particular portrait is correctly or incorrectly identified on the card. I will make a visit to the physical archives on Monday afternoon to see if I can dig up more photographic evidence.

While researching the Chenoweth brothers for another post, I found a list of the class of 1868. Thirteen people were mentioned, but instead of a Philip Matthew Lewis or a B. L. Beck, there was a Thomas Woodward Ahl.

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When I started writing this post, my question was about the recipient of these particular cartes de visite. I found the answer to that quickly enough, as it was written on the back of the composite card.

Composite Card (reverse)
Composite Card (reverse)

“Compliments, H. L. Bowman”

Harry Leader Bowman fits; he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity referenced in Henry Jacob Beatty’s carte de visite.

Now, the more pressing issue is that of the man in portrait nine. He has a different name listed in three separate sources. When I visit the archives on Monday, I will try to find more about him, but that search will have to continue in another post.

Portrait Nine


Citation of cartes de visite:

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