Born in 1830, William Walter Coleman was a photographer in Providence for most of his life. He was close friends with Sarah Helen Whitman, and he even met Poe in 1848 while Poe was in the city courting Helen. Coleman photographed Helen in the early 1850’s. Shortly before her death in 1878, Helen bequeathed her daguerreotype of Poe to Coleman, knowing that it would be in safe hands. That daguerreotype is now in the collection of Brown University at the John Hay Library.
Coleman never married or had children, and he lived in various boarding houses throughout his life. He worked for other photographers until 1868 when he partnered with Orville M. Remington and established a professional studio called “Coleman and Remington” on Westminster Street in Providence. This ended in 1876 when Remington gave up the photography profession.
Coleman died in 1908 from pneumonia. He’s buried with his parents and siblings in their family lot at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.