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A native of Flemington, New Jersey, photographer John A. Anderson recorded nearly a century of social and cultural change in the New Hope/Lambertville area. His documentary studies of local people and their vocations, as well as his own lifelong career as an architect of the railroad, are a chronicle of the area's transition to the twentieth century and the emerging art of photography. Anderson's daguerreotypes and photographs display a modern realism typical of a much later style known as "picture stories." Anderson acquired much of his technical skill as a photographer through reading and experimenting. While photography was his hobby, he often wrote articles for photography magazines such as American Photography. At the age of nineteen, he was a member of the Engineering Corps laying out the line for the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad. At the completion of the line between Belvidere and Trenton, he became assistant superintendent. In 1872, this line merged with the United Railroads of New York, later known as the Pennsylvania Railroad System. Anderson became superintendent of the Belvidere Division. He developed the Pennsylvania Railroad's relief system and retired from active service in 1899.
Daguerrotype of John Anderson, 1845. Image courtesy of the Spruance Collection of the Bucks County Historical Society.
Education and Training
Attended private schools, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and the Doylestown Academy, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Studied daguerreotyping, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1846
Largely self-taught through reading and travel
Teachers and Influences
Studied daguerreotyping in Philadelphia under Charles Evans (not New Hope painter Charles Evans)
Connection to Bucks County
John A. Anderson lived most of his life in Lambertville, New Jersey. His house still stands on North Union Street. He was a leader in civic advancement and charitable enterprises. He married Cornelia Elizabeth Coryell in 1853. Anderson was related on his mother's side to the Flemings, from whom the town of Flemington takes its name.
Spruance Library of the Bucks County Historical Society, Mercer Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
"The Daguerreotype," American Photography, December 1915
Design for soldier's monument, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, 1869
Affiliations and Memberships
Anderson was a member of the Hunterdon County Historical Society, to which he contributed many articles based on a diary he had kept since boyhood. In 1869, he promoted a project to erect the soldiers' monument, originally placed in Mount Hope Cemetery, and his design was accepted for the marble shaft. Anderson was president of the Stryker Library and was responsible for many improvements made to it.