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Frederick W. Brehm photograph collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0015

Scope and Contents

The Frederick W. Brehm photograph collection contains photographs by Brehm and by some of his students. The images are a variety of sizes including several panoramic scenes. The subjects also vary and include landscapes, people, students, classes, machinery, and photographic equipment.


  • Creation: 1925 - 1951

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical Note

Frederick W. Brehm (d. 1950) was born in Waterloo, NY in 1871 or 1872. Brehm was originally trained as a cabinet worker. In the 1890s he found work at the F. A. Brownell Company, which produced wood camera bodies for the Eastman Kodak Company. However, Brehm is best known for his role in developing the Cirkut Panoramic Camera.

The circuit camera was originally invented by William J. Johnston in Wyoming in 1904, but the design was perfected and readied for mass production by Brehm in 1905. Brehm patented his design on January 17, 1905, establishing himself as a leader in the field of photography. Brehm’s Cirkut Panoramic Camera, so named because “Circuit Camera” was already taken, was manufactured in Rochester, NY from 1904 to 1940. Although the camera was originally produced by the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company, it was later sold by the Folmer & Schwing Division of the Eastman Kodak Company. The camera worked by moving in an arc from left to right and utilized a timed exposure.

In 1917, Brehm joined the Eastman Kodak Company. At the time, the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI) was training individuals to work in a variety of fields, but not in photographic production. With the Eastman Kodak Company being one of Rochester’s largest employers, it made sense that a Rochester-based school would help support the company. In 1930, Brehm was “leant” to RAMI to serve as one of two faculty members in the Department of Photographic Technology, a program started to educate individuals to work in the field of photographic materials and equipment production. The program was designed to be a two year cooperative study program, with the first year of classes being taught by Brehm and the second year being taught by Carroll B. Neblette. The first class of 24 students entered RAMI in September 1930.

Brehm continued to teach at RAMI until July 1944. After retiring, he remained at RAMI (now the Rochester Institute of Technology) as an instructor emeritus and field consultant. Because he was seen as a father-like figure by his students, Brehm was often referred to by his pupils as “Pappy Brehm.” He died in Rochester, NY in 1950.


3.5 Linear Feet (1 document box, 1 oversized flat box)




Photographs taken by Frederick W. Brehm and his students. Brehm patented the Cirkut Panorama Camera in 1905 and worked as the first faculty member in the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute's Photographic Technology Department.

Related Materials

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in November 2010. ArchivesSpace record updated by Julia Novakovic in October 2023.

Finding Aid to the Frederick W. Brehm photograph collection
Lara Nicosia
09 November 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA