Guide to the William Henry Jackson Photographs, 1869-1874
William Henry Jackson (1843-1942), was one of the earliest and most important American photographers. From 1869 to 1878 he was official photographer for the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories. Collection includes 130 photographs and albumen prints, almost all of which Jackson made while employed by the Survey. States represented are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Photographs are organized in several series by year from 1869 to 1874. Other important photographs include both a series and an album of the area now know as Yellowstone National Park; some of Jackson's photographs were shown to Congress prior to their vote to establish it as the first national park.
- Collection Number
- William Henry Jackson photographs
- 1869-1878 and undated
- Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942
- 3.2 Linear Feet, 130 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
William Henry Jackson (1843-1942), photographer, artist, and explorer had a long and distinguished career as one of America's earliest and most important photographers, and to this day he has remained one of the best known of the western expeditionary photographers. During the years 1869-1878, Jackson was the official photographer for the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories conducted by Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden. This collection includes 130 photographs, albumen prints, almost all of which Jackson made while employed by the Survey. Of these 130 photographs, 68 are unbound, and 62 are bound into an album. The states represented in the collection are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. The photographs form a number of series: 1869 Series (3), 1870 Series (20),1871 Series (5), 1872 Series (1), 1873 Series (3), 1874 Series (18), Yellowstone National Park Series (2), Indians Series (11), Not Identified in the Catalogue Series (5), and Album: Photographic Views Of the Yellow Stone National Park Series (62). The photographs of the area now known as Yellowstone National Park may have in part led to the foundation of the of park. A selection of Jackson's photographs were shown to Congress prior to their vote to establish Yellowstone the first National Park.
The series of 1869-1873 are described in: William Henry Jackson, Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories, for the Years 1869 to 1873, Inclusive, U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories, Miscellaneous Publications, No. 5 (Washington: G.P.O., 1874). The information folders contain copies of the pertinent pages from the Catalogue. The unbound photographs are listed below with abbreviated descriptions. They are arranged first by series and then numerically within each series. The photographs supplied original numbers but not titles, so the Catalogue provided the titles used below. The images for the Series 1869-1872 vary from 4-7 inches x 7-9 inches mounted on 11 x 14 in boards. The images for Series 1873 are approximately 8 or 9 x 13 inches mounted upon 16 x 20 inch boards. The particulars of the unbound and bound photographs from Yellowstone National Park are given with their listings below.
Each photograph bears an original number and title. These titles are listed below within quotation marks. The descriptive catalogue contains fuller descriptions.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the Rubenstein Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], William Henry Jackson Photographs, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.
1. 1869 Series
The Union Pacific Railroad, Salt Lake City and Valley, and the Black Hills of Wyoming photographed immediately upon the completion of the road in the summer of 1869.
2. 1870 Series
Views made during August-November, 1870, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Colorado City, Colorado, as well as some parts of Utah.
copy negative available: WHJ-1870-N52
3. 1871 Series
From Ogden, Utah, via Fort Hall, Idaho, to Fort Ellis Montana then up the Yellowstone River to the lake, to the headwaters of the Madison.
4. 1872 Series
5. 1873 Series
These three photographs, the largest ones in the collection, do not provide titles except for a caption on one of them. They do contain numbers and the Catalogue provided the following descriptions. Jackson made this series in Colorado. These three photographs once formed parts of panoramas.
copy negative available: WHJ-1873-N1
copy negative available: WHJ-1873-N2
The following two photographs formed part of the panorama: "Nos. 65-70 A panoramic view of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains from near Gray's and Torrey's Peaks, 360° in Six Views, 150 Miles in Diameter."
6. 1874 Series
Jackson also made this series in Colorado. It is listed in: William Henry Jackson, Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories, For the Years 1869-1875, Inclusive, 2nd ed., U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, Miscellaneous Publications, No. 5 (Washington: G.P.O., 1875). The geographical location of the scenes is described as: "Colorado. Middle Park, via Berthound Pass; thence to San Juan mining-region, via the Blue River, Hoosier Pass, and the Rio Grande, including all points of interest in Antelope and Boker's Park, and about the head of San Miguel. The La Platta Mountains and the remarkable prehistoric ruins in the cañon of the Mancos and about El Late, taking in finally, on the way back, the Monument Rocks, between Colorado City and Denver." The photographs were made from 5 x 8 inch negatives.
copy negative available: WHJ-1874-N127
copy negative available: WHJ-1874-N157
These numbered, but uncaptioned, photographs are all identified by printed labeling as belonging to the Survey, but they do not appear in the Catalogue. However, the numbering of the photographs in each series in the Catalogue has many gaps. At least two series, perhaps three, are probably represented, since there are two different styles of printed labeling and there are two number 57s. Presumably, these photographs date from the later years of the Survey, those after 1875 not listed in the Catalogue. The size and printed format of the first four photographs are identical to those in the series 1869-1872, but the printed format of No. 843 is unique to the collection. The supplied descriptions below take the place of original or Catalogue titles.
These two albumen prints provide titles but not the name of the photographer. Comparison with negatives housed at the National Archives provided the attribution for these photographs. The images are 13 ¼ x 10 inches mounted on 14 x 11 mat boards. The mat boards are gilt-edged. These photographs are identical in size and mounting to five photographs attributed to John K. Hillers. See his California Series.
There are eleven photographs of Indians, portraits of either individuals or groups of two or more persons. All eleven have the name of the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories printed on them which dates them between 1869 and 1878. Nine of the photographs have Jackson's name printed on them. There are two printing styles, one style for Nos. 4 and 20 and another for all the others. The prints are mounted on 11 x 14 inch boards. Nos. 102 and 335 have rectangular images. The other nine images were all done with oval masks. Nos. 797 and 798 are two oval images on the same print. The principal list of the Indian photographs is William Henry Jackson, Descriptive Catalogue of Photographs of North American Indians, U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories, Miscellaneous Publications, No. 9 (Washington: G.P.O., 1877) This Catalogue superseded the Catalogue of Photographs of Indians, from Negatives in the Possession of the United States Geological Survey, Collected from various sources, and Covering a Period of Twenty-Five Years, 1874, published as a second edition of the 1874 Catalogue cited earlier. Jackson authored both catalogues, but they listed not only his photographs but those of other photographers as well. There is some question about whether or not Jackson made the eleven Indian photographs in this collection, including those with printed labels "W.H. Jackson Photo.," or merely was in charge of their cataloging and issuance. The catalogues list photographs of Indians made by various photographers and in the possession of the Survey. Although the 1877 Catalogue was designed to replace the 1874 Catalogue, both must be used when identifying the photographs, including those in this collection. Several of the photographs listed below were omitted from the 1877 Catalogue but appear in the 1874 Catalogue. There are other problems that suggest caution in the use of the catalogs. Photograph No. 335 was not listed in either edition. No. 248 has two different listings in the 1874 and only one in the 1877. The listings in the 1874 are not entirely in numerical order, and No. 516 was found on the last page. Since the photographs are numbered, but not captioned, errors in identification can easily occur. The titles in the list below are from the 1877 Catalogue, from the 1874 Catalogue when unavailable in the 1877, and supplied when not listed in either source. In several instances, the description for each item provides detailed information concerning the source of the title.
copy negative available: WHJ-Indians-N102
Print WHJ-Indians-P797 and 798
This album (14 x 12 inches) contains 62 photographs taken by Jackson in Yellowstone National Park during 1871-1872. The title of the album is tooled in gold on the spine of the volume. There is no other identification on the volume. Printing on the mat boards identifies Jackson as the photographer. The prints were made and mounted between 1872, the date of the last pictures and the year when Yellowstone became a national park, and 1879 when Jackson moved from Washington D.C., to Denver Colorado. The printing on the boards of many of the photographs identified Jackson as a photographer in Washington. The album contains 52 photographs from 1871 and 10 from 1872. The printing on the boards identifies the 1871 photographs as belonging to two photographic series: Yellowstone Series and Hot Spring Series. These series, designated by the photographer, were not used in the organization of the collection, but are provided as part of the title for each image. The following list itemizes all 62 photographs. They are listed in the order of their appearance in the album. More detailed descriptions are in the Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories, for the Years 1869 to 1873, Inclusive (Washington G.P.O., 1874) the information folder contains copies of the pertinent pages. Quotation marks around the title indicate that the title was taken from the photograph rather than from the Catalogue or other source
copy negative available: WHJ.Album.N10
copy negative available: WHJ.Album.N16
copy negative available: WHJ.Album.N19
copy negative available: WHJ.Album.N24
copy negative available: WHJ.Album.N31
copy negative available: WHJ.Album.N48
|1843 Apr. 4||
Born in Keesville, New York
Began his photography career in New York as a retouching artist
Served in the Union Army
Opened a photography studio in Omaha, Nebraska
Photographed construction along the new Union Pacific Railroad
Photographed the landscape of the Rockies, especially the Yellowstone area and Colorado, for Francis V. Hayden's Geological and Geographic Survey of the Territories
Opened a new studio in Denver, Colorado
Jackson's photographs commissioned by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad are exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition
|1942 June 30||
Died New York, N.Y.
The following collections in the Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library may contain related material:
- William Bell Photographs, 1872 John K. Hillers Photographs, 1871-1889 and undated Timothy H. O'Sullivan Photographs, 1868-1873
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Documentary Photography
- Indians of North America -- Pictorial works
- Landscape photography -- West (U.S.)
- United States -- Discovery and exploration
- West (U.S.) -- Pictorial works
- West (U.S.) -- Discovery and exploration
- Yellowstone National Park -- Pictorial works
The William Henry Jackson Photographs were received by the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library as a gift in 1972.
These and other photographs by western expeditionary photographers were purchased from Lowdermilk's bookstore in Washington, D.C. prior to its liquidation.
This collection was previously processed by Bill Erwin in 1982. Erwin conducted a great deal of research used to identify photographs made by western expeditionary photographers. Every effort was made to retain both the organization and informational aspects of his work except when they conflicted with more modern practices.
Information folders contain copies of earlier catalog records and bibliographic information for related sources including sources in which these photographs have been published.
Additional folders contain photocopies of photographs annotated by the National Archives, and reference prints made from copy negatives held in this collection.
Processed by Chris Black, November 24, 2004
Encoded by Michael Shumate, Chris Black
Completed September, 2006