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Collection Overview

Creator:
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Collector:
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Title:
Princeton University Library Collection of Western Americana Photographs
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/pn89d9197
Dates:
1840-1998 (mostly 1870-1915)
Size:
144 boxes and 123 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes H1; H2; H3; L1; L2; L3; L4; L5; L6; L7; L8; L9; L10; L11; L12; L13; L14; L15; L16; L17; L18; L19; L20; L21; L22; L23; L24; L25; L26; L27; L28; L29; L30; L31; L32; L33; L34; L35; L36; L37; M1; M2; M3; M4; M5; M6; M7; M8; M9; M10; M11; M12; M13; M14; M15; M16; M17; M18; M19; M20; M21; M22; M23; M24; M25; M26; M27; M28; M29; M30; M31; M32; M33; M34; M35; M36; M37; M38; M39; M40; M41; M42; M43; M44; M45; M46; M47; M48; M49; M50; M51; M52; M53; M54; M55; M56; M57; M58; M59; M60; M61; M62; M63; M64; M65; M66; M67; M68; M69; M70; M71; M72; M73; M74; S1; S2; S3; S4; S5; S6; S7; S8; S9; S10; S11; S12; S13; S14; X3; X4; X5; X1; X2; X6; P-000076; B-000834; P-000082; P-000113; B-001455
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Boxes H4; H5; X7; X8; H6
Language:
English

Abstract

Consists of a closed collection of more than 5,000 Western Americana photographs, consisting mostly of documentary photographs of the Trans-Mississippi West from the late 1860s to early 1900s, largely from the perspective of white photographers and settlers. Subjects include American Indians (especially studio portraits), natural wonders, cities, towns, buildings, and economic activities (mining, railroads, logging, and agriculture). Some photographs relate to the Indigenous populations of Mexico and Central America. The dimensions, physical formats, and photographic processes of the photographs vary widely.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Started in the 1970s, this closed collection includes more than 5,000 photographs consisting mostly of documentary photographs of the Trans-Mississippi West from the late 1860s to early 1900s, largely from the perspective of white photographers and settlers. Subjects include American Indians (especially studio portraits), natural wonders, cities, towns, buildings, and economic activities (mining, railroads, logging, and agriculture). Some photographs relate to the Indigenous populations of Mexico and Central America. The dimensions, physical formats, and photographic processes of the photographs vary widely.

Photographers represented include Charles Milton Bell, John Nicholas Choate, John K. Hillers, Charles Fletcher Lummis, Eadweard Muybridge, Frank A. Rinehart, Bernard Gurney Randall, Carlton E. Watkins, Orloff R. Westmann, Ben Wittick, and many others; as well as photographers whose work was marketed commercially by the Keystone View Company, Underwood & Underwood, and other firms. The collection also includes the work of some contemporary photographers, such as Ulli Steltzer and Kenji Kawano.

For earlier accessions, photographs that are identified with the letter "S" are small prints, many of which are stereographic photographs; those identified with the letters "M" and "L" are mostly albumen prints, and the latter are oversize; photographs with the letter "H" include tintypes, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, and lantern slides; and photographs marked with "X" include mammoth prints as well as gelatin silver prints.

No additions will be made to this collection. Accessions relating to this topic will be added to the General Manuscripts Miscellaneous Collection (C0140).

Content Warning

Dehumanizing and harmful descriptions using racist, colonialist, and sexist language were used to describe many of the items in this collection. In some cases, descriptions were creator-supplied or generated from transcriptions of captions on the photographs. In other cases in which photographs lacked any identifying information, descriptions were created by an archivist. These items are identified in the description with the note, "Cataloger supplied title."

Arrangement

Photographs aquired prior to 2015 are arranged by size and format. Photographs aquired after 2015 are arranged in the order in which they were accessioned.

Collection History

Acquisition:

This collection was created through various gifts and purchases.

Appraisal

No material was separated during processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed and described by Heather Shannon in 2006. Finding aid created by Faith Charlton in 2014. Finding aid updated periodically with new accessions by Faith Charlton, Kelly Bolding, and Chloe Pfendler.

No additions will be made to this collection. Accessions relating to this topic will be added to the General Manuscripts Miscellaneous Collection (C0140).

The existence of harmful language was noted in the collection-level description note by Faith Charlton in 2023 as an initial step per reparative description-related work.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Princeton University Library Collection of Western Americana Photographs; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/pn89d9197
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes H1; H2; H3; L1; L2; L3; L4; L5; L6; L7; L8; L9; L10; L11; L12; L13; L14; L15; L16; L17; L18; L19; L20; L21; L22; L23; L24; L25; L26; L27; L28; L29; L30; L31; L32; L33; L34; L35; L36; L37; M1; M2; M3; M4; M5; M6; M7; M8; M9; M10; M11; M12; M13; M14; M15; M16; M17; M18; M19; M20; M21; M22; M23; M24; M25; M26; M27; M28; M29; M30; M31; M32; M33; M34; M35; M36; M37; M38; M39; M40; M41; M42; M43; M44; M45; M46; M47; M48; M49; M50; M51; M52; M53; M54; M55; M56; M57; M58; M59; M60; M61; M62; M63; M64; M65; M66; M67; M68; M69; M70; M71; M72; M73; M74; S1; S2; S3; S4; S5; S6; S7; S8; S9; S10; S11; S12; S13; S14; X3; X4; X5; X1; X2; X6; P-000076; B-000834; P-000082; P-000113; B-001455
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Boxes H4; H5; X7; X8; H6