Category Archives: St. Joseph’s Academy

William H. Tipton photos in the Provincial Archives

(Images used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives. Text is based on an article which appeared online in

St. Joseph's Academy class of 1894 (photo by William H. Tipton)

St. Joseph’s Academy class of 1894 (photo by William H. Tipton)

Art classroom at St. Joseph's Academy (photo by William H. Tipton)

Art classroom at St. Joseph’s Academy (photo by William H. Tipton)










Seen here are two images from the early 1890s at St. Joseph’s Academy in Emmitsburg. One is the group image of the Class of 1894; the other is an art classroom. They are, of course, a window into the lives of the young women who were educated in Emmitsburg over 100 years ago; however, they have a second interesting feature. They, along with other images in our St. Joseph’s Academy collection, are the work of a well-known Civil War photographer, William H. Tipton.

At the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, the only local commercial studio in the town was operated by Charles J. (1838-1906) and Isaac G. Tyson (1833-1913). The studio was founded in 1859. Tipton (1850-1929) was a native of Gettysburg who began working there as an apprentice at the age of twelve. Following the battle, the studio distributed images documenting the battlefield area and Gettysburg itself taken before and after the battle.

In 1866 Tipton and one of his employees, Robert A. Myers, purchased the studio from the Tysons and renamed it Tipton and Myers Excelsior Gallery. In 1880 Tipton became sole owner and the firm became known as W. H. Tipton and Company. Tipton’s business flourished, and he continued to photograph Civil War battlefields, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Spotsylvania, and Chancellorsville. He served on the Gettysburg Town Council and was elected to the state legislature, and worked on President Theodore Roosevelt’s campaign.






An indication of the scope of Tipton’s business can be seen on the back of the 1894 class picture, which contains this note:

… I have many thousands of plates taken from battle to present time, from which I can furnish photographs or lantern slides.
Headquarters for souvenir albums, guide book, and tourists novelties.
W.H. Tipton
3 Main Street
Gettysburg, PA”

Today, Tipton’s Civil War photography resides at the National Archives, as part of the records of the National Park Service.
Included in that collection are people and scenes used by Paul Philippoteaux as the basis for his Gettysburg Cyclorama. The cyclorama, now restored, can be seen today in the Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park. It is not clear how much of Tipton’s non-Civil-War photography has survived. The Provincial Archives has none of Tipton’s business records, nor do we have images of Tipton’s connected with Gettysburg or the Civil War. The images of his that we have are from work he did for the Daughters of Charity at St. Joseph’s Academy. However, we were pleased to find that our collections can add, in a small way, to the record of this important local photographer.

1 Comment

Filed under Civil War, Emmitsburg, Gettysburg, St. Joseph's Academy

Daughters of Charity helped to build the Washington Monument

Washington Monument under construction

Washington Monument under construction, 1860 (Photo by Matthew Brady, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington DC)

(Photograph [c 1860] from the Brady-Handy Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress; Annals text reproduced with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Sometimes when you’re scrolling through documents looking for one thing, you stumble upon the most wonderful gems. For instance, we had no idea that the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s and the students of St. Joseph’s Academy helped to build the Washington Monument! On September 8, 1836, the entry in the Provincial Annals notes that “In the morning a gentleman called with a subscription book for the Washington Monument to be erected in Washington City. No individual permitted to subscribe more than one dollar. Father Hickey subscribed one dollar. The institution twelve and the young ladies twenty for which they gave up their pocket money.” We wondered whether this was some scheme like selling the Brooklyn Bridge, but after doing a little Internet research we discovered that this donation project was legitimate, having been started in 1832 by the Washington National Monument Society. The money raised helped to begin the monument’s design and the cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848. After fits and starts in construction, the monument finally was opened on Feb. 21 (Washington’s Birthday) in 1885. Now, as the iconic obelisk undergoes repairs for damage caused in the 2011 earthquake, it only seems fitting to call attention to that original $33 donation (not an insignificant sum in its day) that helped to raise the monument in the first place.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Emmitsburg, Provincial Annals, St. Joseph's Academy, Washington Monument

Images from Day 1 and 2 of “Our buildings and very earth trembled”

As of July 4, we are in Day 6 of “Our buildings and very earth trembled”. We will post more images and text from the “voices” presented over all 8 days once the exhibit closes. Below are images from the first two days. Thank you to all who have attended the exhibit!

Gallery 2

Gallery 2

Enke painting St. Joseph's Academy 1873

St. Joseph’s Academy Emmitsburg, 1873 – oil on canvas by Ludwig Enke. This is the property where the soldiers would have camped. It is now part of the National Fire Academy property, just south of our current building.

Daughter of Charity prayer books

In the foreground – A chaplet (rosary), two miraculous medals, a green scapular, and a prayer book from the Daughters of Charity.

Left: Letter from parent of St. Joseph's Academy student from the South  asking the Sisters to keep his daughter safe. Right: St. Joseph's Academy in 1846

Left: Letter from parent of St. Joseph’s Academy student from the South asking the Sisters to keep his daughter safe. Right: St. Joseph’s Academy in 1846

Sisters cash book

Sisters cash book, showing the period of late June and early July 1863.

Ledger from St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, NY

Patient ledger from St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester, one of many hospitals where Daughters of Charity served during the Civil War.

Center: reproduction newspaper with stories about the war. Left: Photo of George Armstrong Custer

Center: reproduction newspaper with stories about the war. Left: Photo of George Armstrong Custer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War, Emmitsburg, Exhibits, St. Joseph's Academy