[Elizabeth Koenig and Romayne Benjamin in front of the Treasure Box store, 7 Sheridan Square, Greenwich Village, New York, circa 1918]
The collection contains about 420 black and white photographs, ca. 1900-1940, primarily of New York City and its inhabitants. It also includes postcards, as well as larger prints, of bohemian Greenwich Village between 1905 and 1920. New York City photographs show the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909, the Woolworth Building, the Municipal Building and City Hall, and the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. A sizable portion of the collection shows the city of Boston betwen 1902 and 1910, including views of Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, and the Old South Church. Pictures taken at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis of 1904, where she was the first woman awarded a license to photograph it, focus on the international air show in the fall of 1904. Other photographs include views of San Antonio, Nantucket, and other places in Texas, Massachusetts, and Arkansas. Almost half the collection consists of portraits, mainly of artists, writers, and Greenwich Village residents. Artists include Rose O'Neill Wilson, James Carroll Beckwith, Gutzon and Solon Borglum, Karl Bitter, Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Julian Weir, Irving Wiles, Harrison Fisher, Daniel Chester French, Norman Bel Geddes, and Tony Sarg. Writers include Mark Twain, Mabel Herbert Urner, William Dean Howells, Fannie Hurst, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Floyd Dell, Emily Post, Ida Tarbell, Booth Tarkington, Sadakichi Hartmann, Carl Sandburg, Joseph Auslander, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and Sara Teasdale. There are portraits of actors and actresses of both stage and screen, such as Viola Allen, Frances Maule, and Judith Anderson, as well as of the dancer Michel Fokine and his wife. Marian McDowell, founder of the McDowell Colony, is also shown. Some portraits are of people not involved in the arts, including Presidents William Taft, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Fashion photography in the collection dates from ca. 1907-1915. Garden photographs are mainly of Greenwich village properties after 1927.
Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870-1942), a school teacher who taught herself photography, joined the Buffalo Courier staff in 1902 and became known as the first woman press photographer. She moved to New York City in 1905 and remained there for most of her career, leaving only to settle in southern California and Chicago for a few years during the late 1920s and early 1930s. She practiced many types of commercial photography with the vigor and speed associated with news work. Her body of work includes portraits, garden photography, city street scenes, fashion photography, and documentary photography.