Once In A Lifetime

Once In A Lifetime

This is the first edition of “The Archives”, a blog series intended to give an inside look into the complicated past of pit bull dogs through photographs, newspaper articles and other historical artifacts pertaining to this controversial debate. 

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The Archives | 1890s Pit Bull Dog

Over the years while researching my documentary films, I have acquired numerous historical artifacts related to the topics these films explore. I quickly became fascinated by the history of pit bull dogs, and sought out old photographs, postcards and other items for inspiration.

It started in 2007 after beginning a documentary about dogfighting titled “Fighting For Their Life” after NFL star quarterback Michael Vick became a suspect in running a dogfighting operation.

From time to time I will be writing blog entries about some of these items I’ve collected and researched, because I’ve seen other people share the same interest.

Pit Bull Dog | 1890s Cabinet Card by Edward Carey Dana Studios
click to zoom

The first item is one of my top five favorites – a photograph from the 1890s (circa) of a white pit bull dog standing. The type of photograph is called a cabinet card – a popular type of photograph developed in the latter portion of the 1800s, An image is mounted on cardboard for the intended purpose to be displayed in a sitting room, rather than placed in an album.

It’s not easy to locate information about the individuals photographed, and unfortunately I do not have any details regarding who the dog or his owner is. But, I was able to dig up some information on the photographer.

His name is Edward Carey Dana, and he was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1853. He later moved to New York, New York where he opened up a photography studio in Brooklyn at 565 Fulton Street.

Eventually, he opened two more locations – another one in New York City on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. And, last, one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 101 Fifth Avenue – the studio location this photograph was taken.

Mr. Dana died at 44 years of age in 1897 due to kidney problems, but became well-known for being a skilled and accomplished photographer during his time here.

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