Biography and History

The photographs in these two volumes were possibly printed by William Henry Jackson in 1878 or 1879 using his own negatives and of other photographers from what is now the Bureau of American Ethnology Collection of Glass Plate Negatives, housed at the National Anthropological Archives in the Smithsonian Institution. That collection is an amalgamation of the work of a number of photographers that began in the 1860s as the William Blackmore Collection and was later added to by A. Zeno Shindler. In the early 1870s, the collection passed into the custody of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories under Ferdinand V. Hayden, of which William Henry Jackson was a member. Jackson's own images of Hayden's surveys were added to the larger assortment, and it was from that combined bulk that these albums are thought to have been produced.

Hayden and Blackmore intended the negative collection be published as an album upon completion of Hayden's USGS Survey, but this idea did not come to complete fruition by the time it officially disbanded in 1879. Therefore, these volumes represent one of the few sets produced by Hayden or Jackson circa 1878-1879, just as the Survey was being dissolved and before the images passed to John Wesley Powell's Bureau of Ethnology (later Bureau of American Ethnology and then National Anthropological Archives).

There may also be a correlation between this photograph collection and a unique copy of Jackson's 1877 Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs of North American Indians (referred to in this finding aid as the DCPNAI) housed in the Rare Books Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. This particular copy of the checklist of the USGS images has two proof pages pasted into the back that detail photographs of Bannock Indians taken in 1878. These pages do not appear in other published versions, and post-date the Catalogue's original date of publication. However, the images described (Jackson negative numbers 1100-1115) do appear in this photograph collection with their respective index numbers, suggesting a contemporaneous relationship of the supplemental pages and the albums, as well as supporting the approximate production dates of 1878-1879.

Source: From the finding aid for WC054

  • Photographs of North American Indians. 1840s-circa 1879.

    Call Number: WC054

    Consists of two disbound photograph albums containing 1,025 mounted albumen photographs of North American Indians, including portraits of delegates to Washington, D.C.; expedition photographs; and early Western studio portraits by American photographers. Most of the photographs in the albums are described in William Henry Jackson's Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs of North American Indians (1877). This collection is included in the Princeton University Digital Library.

  • Sheldon Jackson Collection of Indian Photographs. circa 1850-1890 (inclusive).

    Call Number: WC055

    Sheldon Jackson was a Presbyterian missionary in the Western United States in the 19th century. This collection consists of three portfolios with 576 photographic prints and 5 photomechanical photogravures of Native Americans and related subjects compiled by Jackson, possibly from negatives in the collections of the Bureau of American Ethnology and by ordering prints from various photographic trade catalogs. This collection is included in the Princeton University Digital Library.