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New Mexico : glass plate negatives with prints of Navajos at Bosque Redondo
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: New Mexico : glass plate negatives with prints of Navajos at Bosque Redondo
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.PHOTO.0195
    Identifier/Call Number: 6173
    Physical Description: 1 Linear Feet (13 plate negatives & 13 later prints in 2 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1865
    Abstract: Glass plate negative images of Navajo Indians held at a government camp in Bosque Redondo, New Mexico in the mid-1860s.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use. Negatives have been scanned and are available digitally.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased, 1999.

    Biographical / Historical

    The forced removal of the Navajo ((Diné) people, which later became known as the Long Walk, began in January 1864. After U.S. military forces destroyed their homes, farms and livestock, more than 8,000 men, women, and children were forced to vacate their homelands in what is now northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico to make the 300-mile trek to the Bosque Redondo Reservation (in Navajo Hwéeldi), an internment camp in eastern New Mexico Territory near the military base of Fort Sumner. At least 200 people died of starvation and exposure during the journey.
    By all accounts Bosque Redondo failed as a social experiment in assimilation and self-sufficiency. The Navajo were never provided adequate food and shelter, and many more perished during the incarceration. After four miserable years, the Navajo signed the U.S.-Navajo Treaty of 1868 (also known as the Treaty of Bosque Redondo), which allowed them to finally return to a small part of their land.
    The thirteen images in this collection document this painful time.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], New Mexico : glass plate negatives with prints of Navajos at Bosque Redondo (MSS PHOTO 0195). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford Libraries, Stanford, California

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains glass plate negatives (and later photographic prints from those negatives) depicting Navajo (Diné) people during the time of their forced relocation at Bosque Redondo between 1864 and 1868. They are some of the earliest photographs taken of Navajo.
    In 1999 the library purchased a group of thirteen large format (8" x 10") glass plate negatives from Editions Gallery in Sante Fe, New Mexico. According to the gallery, these negatives had been won at an auction conducted by Riba Auctions in Connecticut, and the Riba catalog apparently indicated that the plates came from "the Anthony Studios in New York," which may refer to the prominent photography company E. & H.T. Anthony.
    All but one image matches those in the collection of the United States Army Signal Corps in the National Archives, although the photos pre-date the forming of the Corps. It is likely that one or more photographers contracted by the military took them, probably as a corollary to progress reports sent to Washington. According to Peter Palmquist and Thomas Kailbourn's Pioneer Photographers of the Far West, "On August 25, 1863, an operator identified only as "Mr. Gage" (sic, presumably A.G. Gaige) arrived in Santa Fe with a commission from the U.S. Army Quartermaster's Department to photograph military posts in the Department of New Mexico. One of the facilities he photographed was the Bosque Redondo Reservation (Fort Sumner), where Navajo Indians were being held in captivity. He tarried there from February to at least March 1866, taking large outdoor views as well as studio portraits."
    If the Anthony Studios mentioned in the original auction catalog is in fact E. & H.T. Anthony, they may have acquired copies of the negatives to publish or distribute the images themselves. The company offered stereoviews of the Civil War taken by the precursor to the Signal Corps.
    All images in this collection contain handwritten captions, probably in the same hand, and numbers ranging from 2658 to 2670, with two unnumbered. Neither these captions nor the numbering appear on any other published version, with the exception of one print in the New Mexico History Museum's Keleher collection which includes the caption as well as both sets of numbers (see below). It is possible that some information has been cropped from published images, but it appears that some of these captions are unique, even if many of the images are some of the most well known concerning 19th century Navajo.
    Matching National Archives photographs all display numbering in the 87960s and 70s which appears to be part of a larger series devoted to Southwestern Native Americans. These numbers are possibly accession numbers assigned by the archive.
    Five of these images match prints in the Souvenirs of New Mexico photo album also held by the New Mexico History Museum. This album was likely assembled by an Army officer stationed in New Mexico after the Civil War, and while the prints are apparently captioned in pencil these have not been included in reproductions.
    These plates are in fairly good condition, but the images are not especially crisp, due both to movement among subjects during the prolonged lens exposure, and the fact that these copies seem to be rather casually produced, with images crooked and marred by frequent blotches.
    Captions have been transcribed for each negative, and related images held by both the National Archives and the New Mexico History Museum have been noted.

    Conditions Governing Use

    These materials are believed to be in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use of public domain materials.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Navajo Indians -- Photographs.
    United States. Army
    Navajo Long Walk, 1863-1867
    Indians of North America -- Southwest, New.
    New Mexico
    Fort Sumner (N.M.)