Thomas S. Bronson (1868 – 1955) was a New Haven physician with a lifelong passion for photography. Because of his family’s comfortable lifestyle, T. S. never had to practice medicine for a living; instead, he was able parlay his hobby into a full time occupation.
The New Haven Museum is fortunate to own over 25,000 glass plate negatives made by Bronson during the first two decades of the twentieth century. His photographs are valuable as visual record of New Haven and its surrounding environs – of its people and landscape. Bronson often looked inward, photographing his family, home, and friends. But he was also mobile – he owned an automobile and took road trips to neighboring towns. His collection serves as one of the chief resources we have in understanding New Haven during the first quarter of the twentieth century.
Although a self-taught photographer, Bronson opened a photo finishing business, photographed sporting events for Yale University and freelanced for local papers. As a member of the New Haven Camera Club, he learned about new photographic technologies and equipment and traveled around the state photographing with his fellow camera enthusiasts. Bronson used a graflex camera early on, but claimed to own as many as forty different cameras. In an interview late in life, Bronson admitted, “I am a great photographer.” Indeed, he was.
Church St. Looking North from Chapel
Bronson also had other hobbies he was passionate about, especially music. He was a founding member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, playing the violin and viola with them for over twenty-five years. He also played with the New Haven Businessmen’s Orchestra Quartet for most of his life. He taught violin in the public schools and also had private students. He collected violins, sheet music, and later on, records.
Men Felling Elm Tree, Dwight Place Church