H.H. Bennett papers, 1790s-1998 (bulk 1856-1998)

Bennett, H. H. (Henry Hamilton), 1843-1908

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  • Papers of H.H. Bennett, mainly from 1856 to 1998, a pioneer landscape photographer whose major body of work was created in the Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, together with records of his studio, and papers of various members of his extended family. When the Bennett Studio closed in 1998 to become an historic site owned by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, it was the oldest American photographic studio in continuous operation, having been operated by Bennett and by four generations of the Bennett Family. The papers contain: Bennett's personal and professional papers including correspondence and diaries detailing his service during the Civil War; studio records documenting the studio's portrait and commercials work as well as the museum run by the studio promoting Bennett's legacy and the ownership of Minirama (a model railroad attraction); and family papers.
  • Bennett's own papers include personal and professional correspondence, diaries documenting his service during the Civil War in the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, exposure books, memorabilia, and exhibit catalogs, articles, clippings and scrapbooks, and other printed material about his career and legacy.
  • Studio records include correspondence and subject files, guidebooks and other studio publications, reference files, comprehensive financial records, and photographic indexes. These records document the studio's portrait and commercial work, its operation of a museum that promoted Bennett's photographic legacy, the family's ownership of Minirama (a model railroad tourist attraction), and, by inference, the development of the tourist industry in the Dells.
  • Additional papers consist of correspondence, diaries, financial records, memo books, memorabilia, and writings of Bennett's extended family, primarily his second wife, Evaline Marshall Bennett and her father George M. Marshall, a machinery inventor and local political leader; Bennett's daughter Miriam E. Bennett; his son-in-law George H. Crandall, who owned and operated much of the recreational land around the Dells, and Crandall's daughters Phyllis Crandall Connor and Lois Crandall Musson, who developed the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial and operated the family's tourist holdings in the Dells.
  • Other topics documented in the collection include the damming of the Wisconsin River at the Dells, the Ho-Chunk Indians, Kilbourn High School Cadets, William H. Metcalf, Hank Patterson, songwriting, steam powered automobiles, and the Wisconsin River Hydraulic Company.


  • Portions of this collection are available only on microfilm.
  • An extensive collection of photographs representing Bennett's own work and that of his successors is cataloged as the "H.H. Bennett Studio Collection" (PH 6062)
  • In English with some Dakota, Lakota, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), and Omaha-Ponca.
  • Portions presented by Miriam Bennett, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., 1950-1956; Keith D. Cooper, Colton, Oregon, 1975; and the H.H. Bennett Foundation, Wisconsin Dells, 1999-2000.
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