William Frank Browne was born in Northfield, Vermont. On the outbreak of the American Civil War he joined the Vermont Volunteer Infantry. In August, 1863, he began working as the camp photographer of the 5th Michigan Cavalry.
A collection of 120 photographs taken by Browne were published by Gardner under the title, View of Confederate Water Batterioes on James River.
After the war Browne returned to Northfield where he died of consumption in 1867.