The Elliotts, Makers of Pictures photo studio was owned and operated by a couple, Martyn (1871-1936) and Jane (1871-1955), of 814 Congress in Austin, Texas. Jane, sometimes referred to as Jean or Jeannie on family documents, was a full partner – a rare and uncommon practice at the time!
Martyn and Jane were both 30 when they moved to Austin in 1901, and opened their studio. It remained successful until the Great Depression when Martyn’s increasingly failing health, and the poor economy pushed them to sell the business and negatives to Jensen Studios and Student Publications.
During their years as co-owners they managed to land exclusive contracts with the State of Texas’ legislature and the University of Texas annual where their daughter, Sarah Pelham Elliott, graduated in 1929 with a degree in stenography.
Was this serious looking teen a University of Texas student? Was it Mrs. Elliott he saw behind the camera?
As all good photographers, Jane must have had a knack for making people comfortable in front of the lens. I imagine she must have had to work hard to assuage preconceived notions, and to gain and maintain a successful, professional and personal reputation in an era when women were not expected to own businesses, and especially not in a field traditionally occupied by men.
She should have seen mindsets slowly changing from the 1900s to 1930s, with women gaining the right to vote in 1920, around the middle of her career.
And photographs speak for themselves. This nice shot would have made a fine class portrait in the ’20s to mid ’30s.