James Wilson Cassell was a medical doctor based in New York who was also an amateur photographer. He was active in masonic organizations. He often used his collection of magic lantern slides for travel talks at masonic lodges. Most of the slides have Beseler Lantern Slide Company printed on the mounts, but it is unclear whether some of the slides were part of educational sets sold by that company or whether that company only processed and possibly hand-colored Dr. Cassell’s own photographs. The collection with an estimated 2300 slides consists mostly of travel images of foreign places and archaeological sites, but also contains photographs from the United States. Less than 150 images have been scanned for online access at this point; those slides with Mexican content appear to date from the early 1920s.
Born in Kentucky, Cassell moved with his family first to Chicago and then to California where he began his medical studies. He received his medical degree in New York City, where he practiced medicine as an ophthalmologist. The collection was donated by David Wilson in 2000.