William J. Roege Photograph Collection
Language of Materials
The collection consists of photographs and negatives by commercial photographer William J. Roege documenting popular New York City buildings, streets and businesses between 1910 and 1937.
The William J. Roege Photograph Collection is digitized and available in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library.
Photographer William J. Roege (1883-1970) worked for commercial photography firms and independently in New York City from at least 1914 through the 1950s, turning his camera toward the businesses and residences of Manhattan and Brooklyn. From at least 1914 through 1923, Roege worked for the firm American Studio at 87 Nassau Street, while making his home in Newark and then Belleville, New Jersey. Photographs within this collection indicate that he was working as a photographer as early as 1910. By 1925, Roege was working at Boyette, the eponymous commercial photography firm owned by Fine Boyette located at 105 West 47th Street, and had moved his residence temporarily to Manhattan. By the 1950s, Roege had moved back to New Jersey, and in 1957 he began using his Belleville address as his sole business address. The business continued to be listed in his name in city directories through the 1970s, although Social Security records indicate that Roege died in December of 1970. Little is known of Roege's life beyond his professional work.
Photographic prints are arranged by subject; negatives are arranged by negative number.
The collection is organized into two series based on format:
- Series I: Photographic Prints
- Series II: Negatives
Scope and Content Note
The William J. Roege Photograph Collection spans the period from 1910 through 1935, during the early part of Roege's long career, when he was based in New York. Photographic prints and negatives depict New York City buildings, parks, residences, and street life. The collection is especially rich in views of hotels and restaurants which have largely vanished. Other views include Times Square in the 1910s, Columbus Circle in 1918, and upper Fifth Avenue residences in the 1920s. There are also several rooftop and high-angle views of Manhattan and the Hudson and East Rivers, views of Brooklyn, the New Jersey waterfront, and other nearby locations. It is likely that some of the photographs in this collection were produced in the course of Roege's employment at American Studio and Boyette, both of New York, as several photographs bear Boyette's name in script, together with Roege's signature.
The collection is organized into two series: Photographic Prints; and Negatives. Roege signed most of his images, and sometimes he supplied the date and location. His signature often conforms to the structure depicted; for example, he has signed along the running board of a 1930s automobile, and on the edge of a street curb. Undated photographs can safely be ascribed to the period before 1940, the year the Society acquired this collection. It should be noted that a few of the photographs and negatives are copies of Roege's earlier works, or lithographs, and of other photographers' New York views.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as William J. Roege Photograph Collection, PR 181, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Approximately 500 vintage negatives and corresponding photographic prints by William J. Roege were purchased on March 19, 1940. The vintage prints were dispersed throughout the Geographic File (PR 020); the negatives remain in this collection. Modern contact prints in this collection were produced between 1968 through 1970 by Klein Brothers Studio, New York, under contract with the New-York Historical Society to reformat its oversize glass negatives. The majority of the oversize negatives from which photographic prints were made were destroyed.
Existence and Location of Copies
Digital copies are available in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library.