Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection

A recent addition to Princeton’s Manuscripts Division and Collections of West­ern Amer­i­cana, the Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection contains photographs and related manuscript material that provides a visual record of Silverton, Oregon, and surrounding areas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection contains nearly nine hundred photographs from the Drake Bros. Studio, most with the studio stamp on the back along with detailed manuscript notes by June D. Drake (1880-1969), including dates, identification of individuals, and the names of buildings and streets (many of which no longer exist in Silverton).  Photographs dated before 1900 are primarily copies of images taken by William L. Jones and other noted Oregon photographers. The collection may be the working files for Drake’s unpublished history of Silverton and environs.  Manuscript material includes notes and newspaper clippings on the history of Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, as well as the Drake and Schoenfeld families.

About June D. Drake and Drake Bros. Studio

Photographers June D. Drake and his brother Emory Roy Drake founded Drake Bros. Studio in 1900 in Silverton, Oregon. Four years later the brothers bought out the business of W. L. Jones, a noted 19th-century Oregon pioneer photographer, and added his negatives to their inventory. The brothers operated together until 1908, when a fire destroyed their studio; very few images were salvaged. June Drake continued to photograph in a new studio until his retirement in 1960.  June was also a local historian interested in documenting Silverton history through his images as well as written essays.  Several of his local history pieces were published in the Silvertonian and Silverton-Appeal newspapers.

Silverton Falls State Park

Drake was also a vocal advocate for the preservation of Oregon’s natural beauty, and perhaps his greatest achievement was his contribution to the establishment of Silver Falls State Park.  Drake photographed all ten of the park’s falls from as early as 1902 and created many travel brochures, pamphlets, and postcards to raise awareness around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest of the need to protect this area from logging. Now covering more than 9,000 acres, Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon, and one of the most popular trails for photographers visiting the park is the Trail of Ten Falls.

A detailed description of the Drake Studios Photograph Archive can be accessed via the Princeton University Finding Aids site: Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection.

Biographical and descriptive text throughout is adapted from the inventory description provided by Kol Shaver and edited by Valerie Addonizio.  Finding Aid and folder inventory written by Jameson Creager, Class of ’2015.

Looking at the West: The Photographer

All images from the Western Americana Collection, Princeton University Digital Library.

The American Indian Souvenir Playing Cards, ca. 1900.

“Fifty-three of the best photographs of the homes and faces of the Pueblo Indians, taken in the last few years by A. C. Vroman of Pasadena, are ingeniously arranged and excellently reproduced for The American Indian Souvenir Playing-Cards; and a zarape in colors illuminates the back of each card. It is a handsome and typical collection. Lazarus & Melzer, Los Angeles, $1.”

–Advertisement from The Land of Sunshine: The Magazine of California and the West (Volume XIII, June-December, 1900).

Thanks to a gift of Donald Farren ’58, the department recently acquired two sets of souvenir playing cards illustrated with half-tone reproductions of photographs taken by noted photographer of the Southwest, A. C. Vroman.
Adam Clark Vroman was born in La Salle, Illinois, in 1856, and moved to Pasadena, California, in 1892 in hope of finding a better climate for his wife, Ester H. Griest, who was dying of tuberculosis.  Following her death in 1894, Vroman and an associate opened a store in Pasadena specializing in books, stationary, and photographic supplies.  The success of the store, which is still in operation today as southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore, Vroman’s Bookstore, provided Vroman with the means to pursue his many interests, including amateur pursuits in archaeology and historical documentation of the American Southwest.

In 1895, Vroman took his first trip through the Southwest, visiting Arizona and New Mexico, which he documented extensively through photography.  Between 1895 and 1904, Vroman continued to explore and document the Southwest, collecting Southwestern Indian artifacts and photographing Native American villages and the people and customs of the Southwestern Indians (Apache, Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo).


The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections holds several individual Vroman photographs and three photograph albums, all of which can be viewed online in the Princeton University Digital Library. Two of the Vroman albums represent (at least in part) the cultural studies of the Museum-Gates Expedition of 1901, led by Peter Goddard Gates, a California philanthropist, and Dr. Walter Hough of the United States National Museum.  Vroman served as the official photographer of the expedition.

Vroman was a man of many interests, and after 1904 his attention turned abroad with tours in Japan and Europe, which included collecting Japanese netsuke and photographing European architecture.  His last tours in North America, in 1914, were of the Canadian Rockies and the East Coast.  Vroman, who died of cancer in 1916, left a substantial collection of Indian artifacts to the Southwest Museum, and his Californiana collection and sixteen albums of platinotype prints from his various expeditions were given to the Pasadena Public Library, where they are still available to view by appointment.  Vroman’s collection of Japanese netsuke is now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which described the collection as one “considered to be the finest and largest in the United States at that time [1910].  This group of 2,500 pieces had been assembled by A. C. Vroman of Pasadena, California, and was purchased and presented to the Museum by Mrs. Russell Sage, one of the Metropolitan’s first great benefactors” (Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Fall 1980).

Select Bibliography

Apostol, Jane. Vroman’s of Pasadena: A Century of Books, 1894-1994. Pasadena: A.C. Vroman, 1994.

Mautz, Carl. Biographies of Western Photographers: A Reference Guide to Photographers Working in the 19th Century American West. Nevada City, Calif.: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1997.

Powell, Lawrence Clark. Vroman’s of Pasadena. Pasadena: [s.n.], 1953.

Vroman, A. C. Photographer of the Southwest: Adam Clark Vroman, 1856-1916. Edited by Ruth L. Mahood with the assistance of Robert A. Weinstein. Introduction by Beaumont Newhall. [Los Angeles]: Ward Ritchie Press, 1961.

Watts, Jennifer and Andrew Smith. Adam Clark Vroman: Platinum Prints, 1895-1904. Los Angeles: Michael Dawson Gallery; Santa Fe: Andrew Smith Gallery, Inc., 2005.

Webb, William and Robert A. Weinstein. Dwellers at the Source: Southwestern Indian Photographs of A. C. Vroman, 1895-1904. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1973.