African American Ball family establishes Globe Photo Studio in Seattle in 1892.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2758
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In early 1892, an African American family of photographers including James P. Ball Sr., his son James Ball Jr., his son's wife Laura Ball, and his daughter Estelle

establish the Globe Photo Studio in Seattle. Their first business announcement appears in the March 27, 1892, edition of the Post-Intelligencer.

The Globe Photo Studio was located and 2nd Avenue and Marion Street, and the family lived in the rear. Each member of the family was a photographer, and each worked in the family business over the next decade. In 1897, the studio moved to 1st and James Street. By that time the business was run by Laura Ball and her offspring (James Ball Jr. and Laura had four children: Robert, William, Alice, and Adelaide). James Ball Sr. helped when the workload was heavy, but also sold advertisements for the Republican newspaper and went about organizing Shrines' lodges throughout the state.

The Ball family moved to Hawaii, where James Ball Sr. died in 1904. Afterwards the family returned to Seattle and continued in the photography business.


Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle's Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 81; Additional research by Jacqueline E. A. Lawson.
Note: This essay was revised on July 30, 2001.

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