Glenalvin, Wallace, and William Goodridge were brothers born in the early 19th century. The eldest, Glenalvin, was the first to step into the world of photography, having trained under a traveling photographer. Afterward, he opened his first studio in York, Pennsylvania in 1847. The studio experimented with then-new photographic techniques like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. His younger brothers followed in his footsteps and eventually opened another studio in the Saginaw, Michigan area in 1863.
Though the brothers started their photography business in portraiture, they later expanded to taking photographs of the industrial trade, cultural events, and developments of the region. As the first family of Black photographers, they provided something that most other photographers did not at the time: dignified photographs of African Americans. The brothers established their studio almost two decades before slavery was officially abolished. It’s safe to say that thanks to these men, we can glimpse a different history of this community.