Dr. George Blackham was born in Jersey City New Jersey in 1846 and died in Chicago in 1928. He came to Dunkirk at the age of four, He entered the engineering corps and in 1864 enlisted as a private in Company I of the 187th New York State Volunteers and went to the front. After fighting in several battles with the Army of the Potomac he served as regimental hospital steward. He returned to Dunkirk after the war and worked with the Erie Railroad as an office boy and then chief clerk. He then studied medicine, receiving his degree from the University of Buffalo in 1870. He was one of the first physicians in the country to specialize in a certain specialty–opthalmology and ontology, serving in Dunkirk as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. He was also an early president of the American Society of Microscopists.
Blackham was a founding member of the Young Men’s Association, a group of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the city. They undertook various projects such as assisting in establishing Brooks Memorial Hospital, creating a public library and improving Washington Park. One way they raised funds for their projects was to create “lantern lectures”–a early form of slide show using negatives that Blackham, an amateur photographer who used a view camera, had taken over the years, some going back to 1886. After some time it was suggested that these images be printed and assembled into a scrapbook. Local photographer George A. H. Eggers agreed to assist him by printing and mounting the images. The album was completed in 1924 and was luckily preserved over the years, for a period of time in the Dunkirk Free Library, until it was donated to the Dunkirk Historical Museum.
George A.H. Eggers operated a photographic studio at the corner of Fourth and Eagle Streets starting in 1889. He was born in Bremen, Germany, came to Dunkirk in 1853, and started his commercial photography business in his home until he purchased a property next door to use as his studio. Eggers was the father of the nationally known artist and director, George William Eggers.