Imagining the West

Cathedral Rock
Carleton E. Watkins, Cathedral Rock, c. 1866. Albumen print.











Civil War
1861 - 1865
  • Conflict between northern & southern states
  • Involved numerous disputes, although most of them centered on the issue of slavery
  • More than 300 photographers documented the battle zones
  • At least 623,000 killed in the war
More than 23,000 died in Battle at Antietam
Alexander Gardner, Carnage at Antietam, 1862.










Mathew Brady's Gallery of Illustrious Americans


Brady's Photo Outfit
Roger Fenton's "Photographic Van"
Mathew Brady's photo outfit during Civil War











Burial Party

John Reekie, A Burial Party, Cold Harbor, VA, 1865.


"The exhibition of [Brady's] images [from the Battle of Antietam], only a month after the battle, caused a sensation. A reporter for The New York Times wrote, 'Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it.'" -Kee Malesky, NPR











George Barnard, Destruction of Hood's Ordinance Train, Atlanta, 1864.


The American civil war then and now


more Civil War photos from Brady's corps











Alexander Gardner and his portable dark room, 1867.











Home of the Rebel Sharpshooter

Alexander Gardner, Home of the Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg, 1863.


"If a studio photographer's duty was to arrange the sitter for a specific effect, and if the resulting image was considered reality, then where were the boundaries of truthfulness when a photographer went outside the studio?" - Robert Hirsch











Was Mathew Brady's effort to document the Civil War a profitable venture?

Harvest of Death

  • 1869 Brady petitiond U.S. government to purchase negative archive for $125,000
  • After U.S. refused to purchase, Brady went bankrupt and had to sell his portrait studio
  • In 1875 the government paid Brady $27,840
  • Brady died in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in NY
  • Gardner also petitioned government to buy his archive and was rejected
  • 90,000 of Gardner's glass plate negatives were scrapped for the glass and silver
Timothy O' Sullivan, A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, 1863.








Manifest Destiny and the Western Frontier
Manifest Destiny = the duty and the right of the United States to expand its territory and influence throughout North America

John Gast,  American Progress, c. 1872.





















Photographer Unknown, Cutting on the Forty-Ninth Parallel, 1860 - 1861.










Alexander Gardner, Westward, the Course of Empire Takes Its Way c. 1869.










Trestle Work

Andrew J. Russell, Trestle Work, Promontory Point, Salt Lake Valley, c. 1868 - 1869. Albumen silver print.











Meeting of the Rails

Andrew J. Russell, Meeting of the Rails, Promontory Point, Utah, 1869. Albumen print.











The Western Landscape


Mt. Broderick

Carlton E. Watkins, Mt. Broderick, Yosemite, 1861.  Albumen silver print.  16 X 21.











William Henry Jackson using mammoth plate camera

William Henry Jackson using a mammoth plate camera











Carlton E. watkins, Three Brothers,  c. 1861.  Albumen silver print.


contemporary shot of the Three Brothers










Yosemite Falls

Carlton E. Watkins, Yosemite Falls, c. 1866. Albumen print.











Carlton E. Watkins, From the Best General View,” Mariposa Trail, c. 1865 - 1866.











Hayden Survey Team

William Henry Jackson, Members of the Hayden Survey Team, 1870. Albumen print.











Timothy O'Sullivan, Sand Dunes, Carson Desert, c. 1868.











Timothy O' Sullivan, Ancient Ruins in the Canyon de Chelle, New Mexico, 1873. Albumen print.











Shoshone Falls
Carleton E. Watkins, Three Brothers, c. 1861.
Timothy O' Sullivan, Shoshone Falls, Idaho, 1868.










Mountain of the Holy Cross

William Henry Jackson, The Mountain of the Holy Cross, 1873.











Geysers on the Yellowstone Reservation

William Henry Jackson, Old Faithful, 1872.


Geysers on the Yellowstone Reservation. Drawn from photographs by William Henry Jackson. From the Illustrated Christian Weekly, November 30, 1872.











more on the near extinction of the American bison
William Temple Hornaday and the last wild buffalo
Unknown, Pile of bison skulls, 1870s.