Title: Illustrator, sketch artist
Birthdate: December 10, 1841
Death Date: February 26, 1926
Plot Location: Section 43, Lot 28, northeast corner

Screenshot (1912)

Joseph Beale’s great-grandmother, Sarah, was the sister of Elizabeth Griscom, who became famous as Betsy Ross.  Sarah had two daughters, Margaret and Sarah. Margaret married Joseph Boggs but he died just two years later. When Margaret’s sister Sarah married, she gave the name Boggs as a middle name to her daughter, Louise, in memory of the husband Margaret lost. 

When Louise married, she continued the tradition, naming her firstborn son after his great-uncle. Her Joseph became a popular illustrator of magazines, books, and newspapers before the technology was developed to publish photographs. In addition, before slide photography was invented, Joseph drew and hand-painted squares of glass that were projected on a screen… the forerunner of slide shows. Here is his biography, provided by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

“Joseph Boggs Beale was born in Philadelphia in 1841 to Dr. Stephen Thomas Beale (1814-1899), a dentist and founder of the Pennsylvania Association of Dental Surgeons, and Louise Boggs McCord (1815-1887). The oldest of eleven children, Beale attended the Locust Street Grammar School, Central High School, and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA). He returned to Central High in October 1862, having beaten out a young Thomas Eakins to become the school’s professor of drawing and writing.

“In June 1863, Beale enlisted in the army and served with the Company D, 2nd Regiment, Blue Reserves of Philadelphia or the 33rd United States Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia. This, however, did not force his career into hiatus. Just a few weeks after enlisting, Beale was appointed a regimental artist and supplied drawings from the field to various magazines for publication. 

“During his tenure he sketched various scenes of camps, soldiers, and battlefields, including Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Hagerstown, Maryland. Beale was mustered out of the army in early August 1863.

“Beale resumed teaching in September 1863, but retired just a few years later. He went on to work as an illustrator for magazines such as Frank Leslie’s Weekly, Harper’s, and the Daily Graphic. In 1868, he married Mary Louise Taffart and the couple moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Beale worked as a book illustrator. Unfortunately, Beale lost the majority of his work during the Chicago fire of October 1871, after which Beale and his wife moved back to Philadelphia. 

“He found commercial work with the Frank Harris Lithography Company and as a magic lantern slide illustrator for Caspar W. Briggs, one of Philadelphia’s early glass slide dealers. These hand-tinted slides, which were placed inside machines known as “magic lanterns” that projected the images onto screens, were a popular form of Victorian-era entertainment that lasted into the early twentieth century. 

“Beale created hundreds of such slides later in his career and illustrated everything from Bible stories and morality tales to children’s stories and popular songs and poems.

“Outside of his artwork, Beale was an avid rower and was a member of the Undine Barge Club, founded in 1856. He died at his home in Germantown in 1926, survived by only one of his ten siblings, brother Albert Barnes Beale. Beale and his wife did not have any children.

“Many of his magic lantern slide drawings were discovered after his death and were presumably dispersed into the hands of museums and private collectors.”

This is one example of the fine detail in his illustrations. Ironically, the introduction of motion pictures put an end to Joseph’s career as a slide illustrator.

It was actually after his death that the quality of his work was truly recognized. A collection of nearly 1700 drawings that had never been made public was discovered several years later. In 1936 they were featured in an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Joseph’s name is inscribed on the side of this monument to his parents and other family members in their plot in St. John’s Circle.




Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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