October’s theme of health and wellness was the perfect opportunity to share the story of a Victorian-era doctor from Reading who had an incredible, and somewhat “hidden” talent. William A. Haman (1861-1942) was the chief radiologist at the city’s Homeopathic Hospital; he served the local community from the hospital and his home office for over 50 years and was considered one of the county’s greatest physicians of his time.
What is most fascinating, perhaps, is that he was also an incredibly talented photographer. Haman must be credited for his expansive library of well-inventoried glass plate negatives and glass lantern slides. Each was captured in perfect lighting with a well-timed exposure and was developed into crystal-clear images that show daily life in Berks County and beyond. Most captivating are the compositions themselves. Scenes that include people appear natural and unposed; you can practically envision their movements as if you were there with them. More importantly, these images shed light on the daily lives of people from all walks of life in our county’s history. Haman’s subjects were normally members of his family, however, there are instances where he captured city, agricultural, and domestic scenes, as well as landscapes and animals. Unfortunately, we do not know the story of the musicians in the corresponding image, however, this exemplifies that Haman was excited to capture a diverse range of members from our community.
If you would like to see more of Haman’s photography from the late 1800s and early 1900s, please visit the Berks History Center’s exhibit, “A Snapshot in Time: The Photography Collection of William A. Haman.” What you will see will allow you the opportunity to travel back in time through the lens of Dr. William A. Haman.
Amber Vroman, Berks History Center Curator
940 Centre Ave
Reading, PA 19601