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Bass Photo Company photograph collection

Identifier: P034

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photographs from the Bass Photo Company in Indianapolis, Indiana ranging from circa 1850 to 1975 and undated regarding people, buildings, street scenes, illustrations, and events such as Foch Day (November 4, 1921) in Indianapolis, as well as a few shots taken around Indiana.


  • circa 1850-1975, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Administrative History

Bass Photo Company's originates in the establishment of the Indianapolis, Indiana location of the James Bayne Company from Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1897. In 1899, William H. Bass, a middle-aged teacher, and Walter T. Woodworth, a Bayne Company employee, acquired the location, naming it Woodworth and Company. Located at 308 South New Jersey Street, the business was rechristened Bass and Woodworth by 1901 and the pair worked together until Woodworth sold his portion of the company to Bass in 1905, when it became the W. H. Bass Photo Company. Seven years later, Bass Photo incorporated under William H. Bass, Charles C. Branson, and Edwin H. Schafer. The company continued in commercial photography as started by the Bayne Company, but also captured street scenes, architecture, and local landmarks under the encouragement of manager Charles C. Branson. Bass Photo Company was unique in that its owners realized the historic value of its photographs and retained the old glass plate negatives which so many of its other contemporaries discarded.The company made it through the Depression and kept abreast of modern photographic trends and processes as the technology advanced. Bass died in 1936 and Branson, his wife Sadie, and son-in-law Theodore Abel held the reins of the company's operations. The company endured, remaining in the Abel family's hands to this day (2021), operating as commerical and corprate photographers at the same location on New Jersey Street.


Bass Photo Co. "About Bass Photo Co." Accessed July 13, 2021.

Hostetler, Joan. "Indianapolis Then and Now: Bass Photo Company, 308 S. New Jersey Street.", September 19, 2013. Accessed July 13, 2021.

I.H.S. Visual Collections. "W.H. Bass Photo Company Collection, ca. 1897-ca. 1970." Finding aid. Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN. Accessed July 13, 2021.


0.45 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 half manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged numerically in original order.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Related Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections at cultural institutions in Indianapolis, IN:

P0130: W. H. Bass Photo Company collection (Indiana Historical Society)

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2021/07/14 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2021/07/14 by Brittany Kropf.


Bass Photo Company photograph collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.