Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Alexander B. Weeks Diaries

Finding aid created by
KYle Garver, Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Alexander B. Weeks Diaries,
Creator: Weeks, Alexander B.
Inclusive dates: 1851,1870, and undated
Extent: .25 cubic feet (in 1 box)
Diaries of Alexander B. Weeks, photograph of Weeks and wife, Sarah, and biographical materials.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Acc #1186

Access Restrictions:

Alexander B. Weeks Diaries are open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Alexander B. Weeks Diaries, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


The collection is organized alphabetically.



Alexander B. Weeks was a photographer, and daguerreotypist from Brooklyn, New York. He worked as a daguerreotypist with David Keith in Poughkeepsie, New York, and for J. Gurney in New York City.

In April 1851, Weeks entered into a partnership with Charles Deforest Fredricks for the purposes of a voyage to South America. They sailed on May 19, 1851 to Pernambuco (now Recife, Brazil), where they established a daguerreotype gallery. Their work there was mainly portraiture, although they also took views of the city, waterfront, and harbor. On November 22, 1851, they embarked for Rio de Janeriro where they spent a few days on their way to Montevideo. In Montevideo, together with Saturnino Masoni and George Penabert, they established another daguerreotype gallery, which operated for two months. They visited Buenos Aires.

After returning to New York, Weeks operated a gallery in Brooklyn until January 1854, when he purchased Fredricks' share of the business and dissolved their partnership. From April 1854-1855, weeks had his own gallery in Toledo (Ohio). He worked at Moses Sutton's gallery in Detroit, 1856-1857.

Weeks married Sarah Ann Weeks. They had at least four children: Mary and Samantha, called “Manty,” Henrietta, and Richard. Sarah was still alive in 1870. (This information is from the collection and Cathy Murray, 2013.]

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of three of Weeks’ diaries, volume 1) January 1, 1851- September 20, 1851, volume 2) September 21, 1851- February 29, 1852, and volume 3) October 2, 1853- December 15, 1857. The collection is organized alphabetically In the first diary, Weeks noted social and family news, visitors, the weather, major newspaper stories, and patrons or “sitters” who sat for “their likenesses.” He also commented several times about his daughters, particularly little Manty who was teething, learning to talk, walk, and was inoculated.

In the end of volume 1 and all of volume 2, Weeks vividly described his voyage to Brazil with Charles Deforest Fredricks, his fellow passengers, weather, other ships seen, seasickness, etc. Once in Brazil, Weeks noted his busy business, social activities, his friends Charles Saturnino Masoni and George Penabert, the natives, landscape, religious and other customs, slavery, and the local political struggles between Rosas, the Provincial Governor of Buenos Aires, and Gen. Urquiza. Similarly, he describes the beginning of his return voyage home and Montevideo, Uruguay, as well as correspondence with his family, and how much he misses them.

The first two diaries have some of Week’s poetry in the rear of the volumes and a few notes and doodles on the inside covers. The name of the printers who created the book in Pernambuco, Brazil, is pasted on the inside front cover of volume 2.

In his third diary Weeks documented his domestic life and business transactions in Toledo, Ohio, and Detroit, covering the same topics as in the first diary, before his voyage. The third diary is missing its front cover. The first page is divided into columns to serve as an account book. The headings of the columns are: Date, Names, Residence, Size, Price, Case, D/P (D/P probably means: Daguerreotype/Photograph).

Biographical Materials include: Week’s business cards from Poughkeepsie, undated (circa 1841?), a bill to an estate for money owed to Sarah Ann Weeks, August 5, 1870, and a photograph (copy) of Sarah and Alexander Weeks.

Subject Terms

    • Weeks, Alexander B.
    • Weeks, Sarah Ann.
    • Fredricks, Charles DeForest, 1823-1894.
    • Photographers--New York (State)--Brooklyn--Biography.
    • Photographers--New York (State)--Poughkeepsie--Biography.
    • Photographers--Ohio--Toledo--Biography.
    • Photographers--Michigan--Detroit--Biography.
    • Portrait photography--New York (State)--History--19th century.
    • Portrait photography--Michigan--History--19th century.
    • Portrait photography--Ohio--History--19th century.
    • Detroit (Mich.)--Description and travel.
    • Toledo (Ohio)--Social life and customs.
    • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)--Social life and customs.
    • Montevideo (Uruguay)--Description and travel.
    • Pernambuco (Brazil)--Description and travel.
    • Pernambuco (Brazil)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Alexander B. Weeks Diaries. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Biographical Materials, 1870, (2002), undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Diaries, Volume 1, January 1 - September 20, 1851
    Box   1 F   3
    Diaries, Volume 2, September 21, 1851 - February 29, 1852
    Box   1 F   4
    Diaries, Volume 3, October 2, 1853 - December 15, 1857
    Box   1 F   5
    Photograph (Weeks and wife, Sarah), undated