Contents and Arrangement

Woman sitting in ski lift, 1941

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


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).

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 transcriptons 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."

Collection History


WA 1984-313

Archival Appraisal Information:

No material was separated during processing.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Woman sitting in ski lift; Princeton University Library Collection of Western Americana Photographs, WC064, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box M24