Emily Frissell

Date in History: c. 1863 – 1886

In 1863 Fort Atkinson resident Emily Frissell was notified that her husband Charles had died fighting to save the Union in America’s great Civil War. Thirty-one-year-old Emily was now alone – the sole support for her five young children. At a time when women had very few careers open to them, Frissell decided to become a studio photographer.

Completely self-taught, she would go on to become one of the leading portrait photographers in the Jefferson County area and one of Fort Atkinson’s most prominent businesswomen. Her business, locating on North Main Street, just north of the current municipal building, continued to thrive until 1886 when she died at the fairly young age of 53.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 04/05/2004.

For anyone interested in history, Emily Frissell’s legacy can be found in the hundreds of studio photographs that are now in the archive of the Hoard Museum.

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