Lost In Translation: Glass Plate Negatives by Charles F. Lummis

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Photographs of the American West and its inhabitants are a particular strength of the Western Americana Collection, and nearly 7,000 images have been digitized for inclusion in the Princeton University Digital Library. Recently, a box containing twenty 8 x 10 and 5 x 8 glass plate negatives by Charles F. Lummis were digitized for preservation purposes. The library holds over 100 prints by Lummis (available here), and a few of the glass plate negatives are represented in the print collection. The level of detail revealed in the negatives versus the prints is striking. Above are two similar images from a sitting in 1896 (notice the basket in the lower left corner is from a slightly different perspective). In the albumen print, the magazine cover is illegible, while the glass plate negative clearly reveals the title and date: Land of Sunshine: A Southern California Magazine. November, 1895.

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The Land of Sunshine: A Southern California Magazine. November, 1895.

The magazine choice was far from arbitrary: Lummis began serving as editor of Land of Sunshine in 1895 (a position he would hold until 1909). While the publication began in 1894 as a promotional magazine for southern California commerce, Lummis quickly expanded the scope to include ethnographic studies of Native Americans. Lummis also refashioned Land of Sunshine after eastern literary magazines, publishing works by Mary Hunter Austin, Robinson Jeffers, Jack London, and John Muir, and he expanded the geographic scope of the publication to include the entire West (the magazine was later titled Out West).

A profile view from the same photo session, titled “A Tigua Maiden,” provides an opportunity for a direct comparison between plate number 691 and a corresponding print.

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A second direct comparison can be made from plate number 661, titled “Desiderio, The Tigua War-Captain,”  taken in 1895.

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All of the recently scanned Lummis glass plate negatives are scheduled for inclusion in the digital library after the metadata is compiled. In the meantime, below is a set of select images.

Select Bibliography:

Gale, Robert L. “Lummis, Charles Fletcher.” American National Biography Online, 2000. http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-01033.html

Watts, Jennifer A. “Photography in the Land of Sunshine: Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Regional Ideal.” Southern California Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 4 (Winter 2005-2006) , pp. 339-376.

Mexico in the 1880s

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The Western Americana Collection recently acquired an album of ninety-one photographs of scenes in Northern and Central Mexico in the 1880s.  The images present city views, street scenes, cathedrals, and various merchants and workers. Sixty-one of the photographs are attributed to William Henry Jackson (1842-1943), while nine are attributed to French photographer Abel Briquet. Notable among the remaining unattributed photographs are nine candid street scenes in Villa Lerdo, Durango.

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William Henry Jackson, known for his iconic Indian portraits and landscape photographs of the American West, traveled to Mexico in 1883 under commission of the Mexican Central Railroad Company to document the inaugural passage between Ciudad Juárez and Mexico City (Debroise, 76).  While documenting the Mexican railroad, which connected with the Santa Fe Railroad, Jackson also directed his lens toward the surrounding landscape, city views, buildings, and local inhabitants. In the same year, French photographer Abel Briquet was commissioned by Compagnie Maritime Transatlantique to document the ports of Mexico (Debroise, 79).  Like Jackson, Briquet also turned his gaze to the inhabitants and surrounding cities.  While Jackson only stayed briefly in Mexico (returning in 1884 to finish documenting the railroad), Briquet stayed on and opened a photography studio in Mexico City in 1885, making him the first commercial photographer in Mexico.

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The newly acquired Mexico album supplements the department’s two significant portfolios containing William Henry Jackson photographs of the American West: Photographs of North American Indians (WC054) and the Sheldon Jackson Collection of Indian Photographs (WC055).  Both of these portfolios have been digitized in full and are accessible via the Princeton University Digital Library. See: Photographs of American Indians and Sheldon Jackson Collection of Indian Photographs.

Bibliography:

Debroise, Olivier. Mexican Suite: A History of Photography in Mexico. Translated and revised in collaboration with the author by Stella de Sá Rego. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001.

8×10 Field Camera from the Drake Brothers Studio

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Thanks to the generous gift of Larry S. Pierce, the library recently acquired an 8×10 field camera manufactured by the Rochester Optical Co., ca. 1905.  The camera, labeled as the “Improved Empire State,” includes the camera body, lens board & lens, extension rail, a cable release, and three plate holders.  Two of the plate holders are stamped “Drake Brothers Studio, Silverton, Oregon” on the inside cardboard septum (the septum being a sheet that separates one side of the plate holder from the reverse side, thus allowing each plate holder to house two undeveloped negatives).  Photographers June Drake and his brother Emory Drake founded Drake Brothers Studio in 1900, and the brothers operated together until a fire destroyed their studio in 1908.  June Drake continued, however, to photograph in a new studio until his retirement in 1960.

In 2012, the Manuscripts Division acquired an archive containing nearly nine hundred photographs taken by the Drake brothers. Along with the studio stamp on the back, many of the photographs contain detailed manuscript notes by June Drake.  The notes include dates, identification of individuals, and the names of buildings and streets (many of which no longer exist in Silverton).  For more information about the archive, see: Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection.

 

Salt Lake City: Picturesque and Descriptive

Salt Lake City

Pratt, George. B. Salt Lake City: Picturesque and Descriptive. Sold Only by Subscription. Neenah, WI: Art Publishing Company, 1889. 2013 – In Processing.

The Princeton Collections of Western Americana recently acquired a complete, nine-part set of Salt Lake City: Picturesque and Descriptive, published by the Art Publishing Company in 1889.  The view books present sixty-four black and white photographs and are notable for their inclusion of unusual views of local establishments and factories along side the more common views of architectural monuments and city streets. Accompanying the picturesque views of the Salt Lake Temple, the Utah Exposition Building, and the Grand Opera House, one finds several descriptive interior views, such as the Retail Dry Goods Department of the Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile or the Cutting and Fitting Room of the  Z. C. M. I. Shoe Factory.  Below is a select gallery of images from various parts.

The Wild West Comes to Princeton

Printed on verso: "Pawnee Bill in Princeton. May 15th 1899.  The Indians."

Printed on Verso: “Pawnee Bill in Princeton. May 15th 1899. The Indians.”

Gordon William Lillie, better known as Pawnee Bill, began his entertainment career in “Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show” serving as the interpreter and coordinator for the Pawnee Indians.  While on tour in Philadelphia, Gordon met May Manning, whom he married two years later, and May’s parents convinced Gordon to venture out with his own western show.  His first attempt in 1888, “Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show,” proved to be a financial failure. His second attempt in 1899, however, “Pawnee Bill’s Historical Wild West, Indian Museum, and Encampment,” found greater success.

The Historic Wild West Comes to Town

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 10.42.21 AMOn May 15, 1899, Pawnee Bill’s Historical Wild West was set to perform in Princeton.  Leading up to the event, the Daily Princetonian ran several advertisements highlighting the coming extravaganza.  An illustrated advertisement on May 6 mentions a reorganized, rearranged, improved, and augmented show presenting  1,000 men, women, horses, Indians, and soldiers with performances to be held at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., as well as a Grand Street Display (a parade on Nassau Street) at 10:00 a.m.  A May 9 advertisement describing an earlier performance in Charleston, South Carolina, provides a glimpse of the action to come (including a mention of May’s shooting):

The combined shows of Pawnee Bill which exhibited here [Charleston] yesterday is first-class in every respect: as a life-like portrayal of savage modes, it has no equals …. The performances of the trained animals were excellent, and equal to any every exhibited in this city.  May Lillie’s shooting is wonderful, and the riding and driving of 35 wild mustangs are all grand features.  The wild buffaloes and long-horned Texas steers, the grand Mexican Hippodrome races, by senors and senoritas, are most wonderful and exciting.

A Bloody Riot on Nassau Street

While various newspaper accounts of the activities on May 15 differ slightly, all report that the Grand Street Display did not go well.  According to an article that ran the following day in the New York Times, ”Princeton Students Riot, Attack Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Combination,” the town had an unwritten law which forbid touring parades from proceeding on the streets of Princeton, and “it had been a matter of common knowledge in the [touring] profession that the students would enforce the unwritten law.”  With the Grand Street Display set to go forward as advertised, a large group of students, reported as 600-700, had gathered on Nassau Street that morning to meet the parade, and several of the students welcomed the performers by slinging mud, eggs, potatoes, and firecrackers.  The firecrackers startled the horses which caused a brief run-away wagon until one of the lead horses fell.  The procession continued down Nassau Street, but unfortunately, the parade route was a loop, and on the second trip through the gauntlet of flying produce, the cowboys and Indians began to “use their whips freely” and the stung students replaced their harmless projectiles with stones.  The scene soon escalated into a full and deadly skirmish:

Then the cowboys and Indians retaliated.  Some of them drew their revolvers and began to fire, but they either used blank cartridges or fired over the heads of the crowd.  Others, however, unslung their lassoes and used them as whips. Some of the Mexican or South American cowboys unslung their bolas and used these with great effect, the leaden-covered ends being exceeding effective.  The cowboys charged the crowd several times and rode down those who could not get out of the way.  In this manner Elwood Dillon, a colored man, was knocked down, kicked in the head by a pony and his skull fractured.

As the fighting continued, the wagons were driven rapidly down Nassau Street to safety. The horses of a speeding stage-coach, “Fort Sill,” can be seen entering the frame of the following photograph, appropriately titled “Fort Sill Stage-Coach Runs Away.”

Printed on Verso: "Pawnee Bill in Princeton. May 15th 1899. The Fort Sill stage-coach runs away."

Printed on Verso: “Pawnee Bill in Princeton. May 15th 1899. The Fort Sill stage-coach runs away.”

Along with Elwood Dillon, several students and performers were injured and bruised in the pitched battle on Nassau Street, and the unfortunate seriousness of the event required action from the university:

The students were preparing for a lively time to-night when this afternoon President Patton summoned every member of the university to attend a mass meeting.  He forbade them to go to the circus to-night, and said that if any student disobeyed him it would be at the student’s peril.  Major Lilli [sic], owner of the show, was present and made a speech, which aided in pouring oil on troubled waters.

Pawnee Bills Wild West Show lives on today in annual reenactments on the last three Saturdays of June at the historic Pawnee Bill Ranch in Oklahoma: Pawnee Bill Ranch.

The photographs of Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show on Nassau Street are part of the Western Americana Photography Collection, which houses more than 10,000 photographs pertaining to the American West.  Nearly 7,000 images in the collection are available online in the Princeton University Digital Library.  Below is a gallery of related Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill photographs from the collection.

Bibliography:

Brown, Erin Glanville. “Pawnee Bill (Gordon William Lillie, 1860-1942).” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia (accessed June 27, 2013).

“Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West.” Daily Princetonian. May 6 and May 9, 1899. http://theprince.princeton.edu (accessed June 27, 2013).

“Princeton Students Riot. They Attack Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Combination.” New York Times. May 16, 1899. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F60D17F6345911738DDDAF0994DD405B8985F0D3 (accessed June 27, 2013).