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William E. Irwin Photographs of Great Plains Indians
photCL 161  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: William E. Irwin Photographs of Great Plains Indians
    Dates: ca. 1890-1910
    Collection Number: photCL 161
    Creator/Collector: Irwin, William E., 1871-1935
    Extent: 50 photographs in 1 box; prints 14 x 10 cm. (5.5 x 4 in.). See itemized list under “Additional collection guides.”
    Repository: Huntington Library. Photo Archives
    San Marino, California 91108
    Abstract: A disbound album of primarily portrait photographs of Plains Indians, taken by photographer William E. Irwin from the 1890s to early 1900s, in Indian Territory. His images document the Chiricahua Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians who lived near Anadarko and Fort Sill, Oklahoma; some photographs may have been taken at Irwin’s studio at Chickasha, Indian Territory. Besides the studio and field portraits, there are also candid views illustrating late 19th-century Plains Indians in their daily lives; several views of cowboys and cow herding; Fort Sill; tepees; landscapes; and one view of a Wichita Indian grass house or wickiup. Notable portraits include those of Geronimo, seated, posing with headdress and revolver; Appeahtone (Kiowa Chief) and his wife; and Quanah Parker (Comanche Chief) with two of his wives.
    Language of Material: English


    Access is granted to qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact the Curator of Photographs at the Huntington Library.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Photographs. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    William E. Irwin Photographs of Great Plains Indians. Huntington Library. Photo Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Cherokee Bookstore, January 24, 1967.

    Biography/Administrative History

    William E. Irwin was born in 1871 in Red Oak, Missouri. He learned photography around 1893 in either Indian Territory or Texas, and went on to operate galleries in Chickasha, Oklahoma and Silver City, New Mexico. In 1904, along with his brothers John and Marvin, Irwin opened and operated a photography studio in Bisbee, Arizona. In 1913, he renovated the McPhearson Building as a studio, and worked there until 1922. Irwin’s last photography studio was located in Douglas, Arizona, which he managed until his death in 1935.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Many of the photographs focus on Comanche and Kiowa Indians posing for studio portraits. These portraits depict infants and children, young women, mothers, scouts, and warriors, many identified by name. Named individuals include Poor Buffalo, White Buffalo, Lone Wolf, and Little White Shield, among others. Field photographs show Apache, Kiowa, and Comanche encampments; a Wichita grass house; both cowboys and Indians caring for their herds; and views in and around Anadarko and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Sources consulted in the creation of this finding aid include: Mautz, Carl. “Biographies of Western Photographers.” Nevada City, Calif.: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1997. / National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. “William E. Irwin: Portfolio.” Accessed March 29, 2013 (http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org) / Rowe, Jeremy. “Photographers in Arizona 1850-1920: A History & Directory.” Nevada City, Calif.: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1997. / University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History. “Irwin, William E.; Quanah Parker with two Wives, Photograph, ca. 1890.” Accessed March 29, 2013, http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth17136/

    Indexing Terms

    Apache Indians
    Chickasaw Indians
    Comanche Indians
    Indian encampments—Oklahoma
    Indians of North America—Dwellings—Great Plains
    Indians of North America—Great Plains
    Indians of North America Indian Territory
    Kiowa Indians
    Wichita Indians—Dwellings
    Geronimo, 1829-1909
    Parker, Quanah, 1845?-1911
    Anadarko (Okla.)
    Fort Sill (Okla.)
    Photograph album
    Studio portraits

    Additional collection guides