Above are two photographs which, after some thought, I believe are of Theodore Dreiser. As far as I know, they are unique and have not been published or posted before.
One Dreiser scholar whom I have already consulted feels certain that it is not Theodore Dreiser who is shown here. The scholar replied as follows in an email to me:
Doesn’t look like him to me. For that age, the photo is too heavy set a person, among many other things. Check out all the photos at Penn in the Dreiser collection; nothing remotely like this.
These two photos were sent me by a descendant of Dreiser’s maternal grandmother. She has a lot of precious family photos, several of which seem to be unique, including photos of Theodore Dreiser; Helen (Richardson) Dreiser and her family; and Paul Dresser.
There were four photos purportedly of Theodore Dreiser which she sent me, along with the others of the Dreiser family and those of Helen Richardson’s ancestors and relatives. Of those four photos, two (not shown above) are definitely of Theodore Dreiser.
Given that the two above photos come from a family collection, one wonders: if it’s not Theodore Dreiser, who could it be? Some consideration should also be given to the fact that the owner of the photo has always understood that it was a photo of Theodore Dreiser.
— Roger W. Smith
Addendum: Regarding the “fact” that “Dreiser” doesn’t quite look like himself here, I can’t help thinking of a passport of photo of myself that was taken when I was age 25 and was making my first trip to Europe. The photographer who took my passport photo was offputting and overbearing. He insisted that I take off my glasses. In the photo, I hardly looked like myself, perhaps because I was uncomfortable. I showed the photo to a good friend of mine. He insisted it was not me. When I was traveling, I had trouble at border crossings with customs officials who thought it was someone else’s photo.
Addendum: For comparison purposes, I have posted below a collage of photos of Dreiser as a young man.