Photo Supplies Arrived

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, June 15, 1914:  My photo supplies came this morning. Hope to make some presentable pictures now. Am very tired for I was working for wages today.

DSC08259.crop aPhoto source: An advertisement for the Kodak Film Tank that appeared in the August 1913 issue of Farm Journal. You can see the entire advertisement in this previous post:

1913 Kodak Film Tank Advertisement

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:


It’s awesome that your photo supplies arrived. You’ve mentioned taking and developing pictures several times over the past year or so. What a fun and rewarding hobby!


Apparently strawberries were in season. Throughout the diary she got paid for picking a neighbor’s strawberries each June. For example, in 1911 she wrote:

Started to pick strawberries this morning. Of course it will mean some early rising and loss of sleep, but just look at what I can earn.

June 12, 1911

40 Responses

  1. Imagine the difference of us taking digital photos now and what Grandma would have to have done to develop her photos.

    • It’s absolutely amazing how much photography has changed across the years. When I was young I can remember thinking twice before taking a picture because film and film developing were expensive. I can remember several times when I was a teen when I took a roll of pictures–and then later didn’t think that they were good enough to justify the cost of developing it, so I threw the film out.

      • I don’t think I ever threw a film out but remember being so disappointed to have paid good money for the developing and then the photos turned out poorly.

  2. Wow. I say that with respect! I developed film in film tanks in art school in the 70’s. Imagining past technologies isn’t hard for me. Using new technologies isn’t either. I appreciate both. I guess that’s why I enjoy the format of your blog so very much… 100 years ago and your views today. Such a wonderful tribute to your grandmother, yes… but also, your viewpoint and updates are so great!

    • I’ve never developed any film so I find it difficult to picture exactly what it entails, but seems like it would be complicated (but rewarding when the photos turns out well.) Thanks for the nice note. It’s always wonderful to hear when someone enjoys this blog.

  3. I really think it’s neat that Helena had such an unusual hobby. Do you have any of the photos she made?

  4. WOW, this is brilliant. Brings me back to my ancestors!

  5. Just the other day, as I was snapping away with my camera, I thought of how far photography has come just in my lifetime!

  6. What a great thing to do with her money!!!

  7. Yay the photo supplies arrived! I wish we could see some of the photos that Helena took, that would be awesome.
    Diana xo

    • Sometimes I’m surprised by the things that have survived a hundred years–other times I feel a little sad about the things that have been lost.

  8. How exciting to be receiving all that photography stuff. It had to be a real challenge in those days, but probably fun for your grandma. And working for “wages” would help to defray the costs. Would love to see some of the photos she took.

  9. Wouldn’t Grandma be surprised now with all the advancements in photo taking and supplies! Soooo much easier.

  10. According to the Kodak web site, mail in processing was available years before this Film Tank.

    1888 – The name “Kodak” was born and the KODAK camera was placed on the market, with the slogan, “You press the button – we do the rest.” This was the birth of snapshot photography, as millions of amateur picture-takers know it today.

    • Interesting. . . I know that I did see some small classified ads in the 1914 issues Farm Journal magazine for film developing. I wonder why magazines were running big ads for the film tanks–if there were easier ways to get film developed. I wonder if quality was an issue with the mail order developers.

  11. It’s amazing how different modern photography is just from when I was young. I had 110 camera growing up and a polaroid instant camera. Photography a 100 yrs ago! What an interesting hobby.

    • Until you mentioned them, I’d totally forgotten about the 110 camera. I can remember when they were considered to be very modern with the film in an enclosed cartridge.

  12. A lot of changes in photography since then. My mouth is watering after reading about strawberries. Hard on the back picking them but they sure are yummy. Hugs

  13. What a great feeling — earning wages!

    • You’re absolutely right. Getting paid is a great feeling. . . especially for young people who’ve had relatively few earning opportunities.

  14. I’m glad that she continues with her photography.

  15. […] feel stiff, too. I think that Grandma was getting paid by a neighbor to pick strawberries. The previous day she wrote that she was “working for wages.” It’s hard work to stoop and pick strawberries for […]

  16. Would love to see some of the photos she took.

  17. Were any of her photographs archived? I love photography … the developing would intimidate me. Good for Grandma!

  18. Funny how everything is so instant today – no waiting!

  19. […] dear, Grandma, I’m so sorry. You’ve worked so hard for the last two weeks or so—first picking strawberries for wages and then helping harvest hay. A 19-year-old deserves to get Saturday afternoon off so that she can […]

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