Biographical / Historical
John G. (Griscom) Bullock (1854-1939) was born in Wilmington, Delaware to a Quaker family; his parents were William Rockhill Bullock and Elizabeth Emlen. As a child, he printed and published his own newspaper (City Journal). He graduated from Haverford College in 1874 and received a Ph.G. from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy which prepared him for photographic chemistry requirements; he was a chemist and druggist for the firm Bullock & Crenshaw for 31 years beginning in 1874. He married Rebecca Malin Downing in 1888.
"Bullock's earliest photographs were made with a small view camera using 4 × 5 inch Carbutt dry plates. The lenses he employed were designed for rapid exposures and reduced distortion, and included a Ross Rapid Rectilinear lens and a Grubb landscape lens. By 1886 he had a larger format camera which took 61/2 × 81/2 inch dry plates.... In 1911, he began using a roll film camera which made 3 1/2 × 5 3/4 inch negatives." The earliest prints Bullock made were on albumen paper, followed by platinum paper to give a richer image. His platinum paper was manufactured by Willis & Clements and by Buchanan Bromley & Company. Although Bullock rarely made modifications to his prints, platinum printing allowed greater flexibility in manipulation of the image. When he did manipulate his images, it was to print clouds into blank skies or to change tonality; most of these alterations were made by retouching the negative.
Bullock became interested in photography in 1882; the same year, he became a member of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, later its president. He studied under the photographer John C. Browne.
Bullock had two of his photographs accepted in the first international exhibition, the Vienna Salon. Bullock was an organizer of the Philadelphia Photographic Salon, an annual juried competition, and his work was known to Alfred Stieglitz. In approximately 1902, the latter became director of the Photo-Secession gathering together Bullock and others as founders to forward the cause of art photography; their work was called pictorial photography. The journal of this group, CameraWork, was founded by Stieglitz the same year to further modern photography. Initial exhibitions of the group resulted in international invitations to Bullock to exhibit. Bullock's last major exhibition during his lifetime was at the Albright Art Gallery in 1910.
These notes were taken from Beck, Tom, An American Vision: John G. Bullock and the Photo-Secession. New York: Aperture in association with University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1989 and and the Biographical Catalog of the Matriculates of Haverford College, 1833-1922. Philadelphia: Alumni Association, 1922.
The collection contains some of his earliest writings, beginning in 1866. These works show his disposition to publishing, as he started a newspaper when a student at Haverford College. After this, he got a printing press.
William Rockhill Bullock, son of John Bullock and Rachel Griscom, was born in 1824. He entered Haverford College and left in 1842. He received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He became Surgeon to the United States Army Hospital at Wilmington, DE during the Civil War. He was a frequent lecturer on chemical and electrical subjects. He was a fellow of Philadelphia College of Physicians; a charter member and physician to Delaware Hospital; and one of the founders of the Wilmington Institute and Library as well as president of the Board of Education in Wilmington, DE.