James Burton Pond 1838-1903

Born Cuba, New York


James Burton Pond was the leading lecture manager in America at the end of the nineteenth century. During a period when public lectures were popular entertainment, Pond orchestrated countless speaking tours and brought hundreds of authors and celebrity orators to New York. A decorated veteran of the Civil War, Pond worked with such luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Nast, and the preacher Henry Ward Beecher. His most successful client, though, was author Samuel Clemens, who relied on Pond’s contacts and organizational skills to orchestrate his moneymaking lecture tours. Pond’s office was only a block from Ben-Yusuf’s first studio at 124 Fifth Avenue, and it is likely that he directed a number of his clients to her. In an age of the self-made man, Pond became a celebrity by promoting, and in some cases creating, the celebrity of others.

Platinum print, c. 1898
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona