Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, ca. 1887

No. 230, Fort Stanton N.M. from the N.W.

No. 230, Fort Stanton N.M. from the N.W.

The Western Americana Collection recently acquired a set of four 5 x 7 albumen cabinet cards of Fort Stanton, New Mexico.  The photographs are undated and the photographer is unattributed. Three of the photographs, however, include print numbers and titles:

No. 230, Fort Stanton N.M. from the N.W.

No. 231, Fort Stanton N.M. from S.W.

No. 233, Fort Stanton from N.E.


No. 233, Fort Stanton from N.E.

An identical print of no. 233 housed in the University of South Carolina Bonneville Collection is annotated in a contemporary hand with the following inscription:

Photograph taken at Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory, March 1887.  1) launderers’ quarters, 2) garrison, 3) Fort Hospital, and on the north side of the Rio Bonita where tents can be seen, are situated the company gardens.


Grooming Horses at Fort Stanton

The fourth photograph in the collection lacks a print number but is titled “Grooming Horses at Fort Stanton,” and several of the soldiers appear to be African Americans.  Buffalo Soldiers, African American cavalry and infantry troops that served in the Civil War and were later sent to the Western frontier to fight in the Indian wars, began serving in the New Mexico Territory in mid-1860s.  The 9th Cavalry participated in the Colfax County War in 1876 and the Lincoln County War in 1878, where they were stationed at Fort Stanton.  While the 9th Cavalry left New Mexico in 1881, the 10th Cavalry returned to New Mexico in 1887, and one of the final duties of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed in New Mexico was the dismantling of Fort Stanton in 1896. For more about African American troops in New Mexico and additional works on the history of Buffalo Solders, see William H. Wroth’s “Buffalo Soldiers in New Mexico.”


Wroth, William H. “Buffalo Soldiers in New Mexico.” New Mexico Office of the State Historian.

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

Lummis-3   Lummis-2

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.


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.

Lummis-4  Lummis-1

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

Lummis-15  Lummis-War

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.

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.