• Eastman Kodak Co.'s Brownie Camera Ad in Recreation v.13 (6 July-Dec. 1900), p. xxiv. Harvard University's Ernst Mayr Library via HathiTrust.

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    Eastman Kodak Co.'s Brownie Camera Ad in Recreation v.13 (6 July-Dec. 1900), p. xxiv.

  • "Kodak the Children" - The winning picture in Kodackery 1916 Oct. p.14. Courtesy of the University of Michigan via HathiTrust.

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    "Kodak the Children" - The Winning Picture in Kodackery 1916 Oct. p.14.
    • Date
    • 1913-1932
    • Description
    • Description based on: Vol. 4, no. 1 (Sept. 1916); title from cover. A journal for amateur photographers. No more published.- Union List of Serials.
    • Rights
    • Public domain. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Michigan.

  • Michael T. McGreevey Holding Brownie Camera at Ground Breaking Ceremony, 1901. Courtesy of Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Michael T. McGreevey Holding Brownie Camera at Ground Breaking Ceremony
    • Date
    • 1901
    • Description
    • The Huntington Avenue Grounds were built on a parcel formerly owned by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad across the tracks from the South End Grounds where the Boston National League Team played. Michael T. McGreevey stands to the left hold... more
      The Huntington Avenue Grounds were built on a parcel formerly owned by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad across the tracks from the South End Grounds where the Boston National League Team played. Michael T. McGreevey stands to the left holding the Brownie camera. Also identifiable are General Arthur "Hi Hi" Dixwell, with the shovel, to the right of Dixwell, Mike Sullivan, former pitcher and Massachusetts State Senator. less
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

  • If you want it - take it - with a Kodak [advertisement], 1900. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    If you want it - take it - with a Kodak
    • Date
    • 1900
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection. The New York Public Library

Introduced in 1900, the Kodak Box Brownie boasted simple, straightforward usage at an affordable price. The first model was a cardboard box camera with a simple lens that printed on roll film. The camera was priced at just one dollar, which meant that many Americans could buy into the photography craze.

While previous camera ads had only been printed in professional and hobbyists journals, ads for Brownie Cameras were published in popular magazines along with a yearly advertising contest that encouraged both amateurs and professionals to participate. Throughout the early to mid-twentieth century, Kodak even engaged children through giveaways and other gimmicks (including debuting a line of Brownie cameras marketed at Boy Scouts), ensuring that youngsters became some of the camera’s most fervent users. Within the first year, Kodak sold over 150,000 Brownies. They would continue to offer new, innovative versions over the next several decades.

By the time Kodak celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1930, the American love affair with the camera was already in full swing. The popularity of the small, unassuming box that gave ordinary people the power to record their lives through images meant that history was now not only textual, but pictorial as well.