The Photographer &
Henry Brinckmann was born in Bremervoerde, Germany on February 15, 1873, the
second eldest son of Johann and Marianne Brinckmann. He emigrated to the
United States with his older brother August in the early 1890's, while his
younger sisters, Dorothea and Adele stayed behind.
brothers operated a grocery store at the corner of Geary and Jones Streets in
San Francisco. Frederick married Elise Graalfs in October of 1895.
By the time the earthquake and fire came in 1906, Frederick and Elise had two
sons, August, named for Frederick's older brother, and Frederick Edwin.
The earthquake and fire completely destroyed the store and Frederick and his
family came to live with his wife's family in the less affected area of the
Mission district and eventually reopened his grocery store there.
wife, being a very practical North German, saw an opportunity for them to get
back on their feet when she heard that the civil authorities were paying men to
clean bricks of the fallen buildings for reconstruction. Frederick
disappointed her by not taking full advantage of the brick cleaning opportunity.
Instead, he took his Ansco No.5 camera, armed with several rolls of film, and
began to walk the ruins taking the pictures you will see on this website.
after the earthquake, Frederick and Elise found themselves expecting their third
child, Lida, born in 1907, who was my mother and from whom I inherited these
photographs. Not only do I have the photographs, but I have the negatives.
Thanks to my father's interest in photography, I also have the Ansco No. 5 that
took these photos. He preserved it and used it, unaltered, as the lens
element of an enlarger he built. He made copies from the negatives and I
did also, using that same enlarger. These photographs have never before
been published, though they have been a carefully preserved family treasure.
As a child I took them to school on numerous April 18's and after me my children
did the same thing for what was then termed "show and tell."
this website, I have come notice many things about the photos that I hadn't seen
even in the 8 x 10 photographic prints I had made several years ago. The
scanning has brought out many details in the photos that have enabled me to
better identify the places photographed. I will continue to add to the
captions as I learn more about the buildings and details in the scenes.
Try viewing the pictures at full resolution on a full screen and you will be
able to see many of these details, like small signs, safes in the streets, and
mortar on the bricks. Many of these photos, when displayed in this way,
can make you feel you are in the scene.
The most important
thing about these photographs, though, is that they are indeed a family album
that shows this great tragedy in San Francisco history through the eyes of a
German immigrant who was neither rich nor famous.
If you can add information related to any of these photographs or the places they
depict, please let me know and these details can be added to the website. Please
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Technical Details
All of the Photographs you see on this website were scanned at 300 DPI
from the original negatives taken on No. 103 roll film, which produces a
1/2 x 4 1/2 inch negative. The resulting positive images were corrected for contrast
and brightness. Other than that, most of the images have no other correction, though
I am now attempting to digitally enhance the images to remove blemishes and scratches.
The available resolution of the photos
is just under 2 megapixels. Remember you are free to use them for non-commercial
Web Design and Digital Images
Copyright 2006-2015 - Dale F. Smith