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Photographs of the California Missions by William Henry Jackson: Finding Aid
photCL 444  
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A collection of albumen photographs of 12 California Missions, taken by nineteenth-century photographer William Henry Jackson sometime between 1885 and 1890. One or more images of the following missions are included: San Antonio de Padua, San Carlos Borroméo de Carmel, San Diego de Alcalá, San Fernando Rey, San Francisco de Asís, San Gabriel Arcángel, San Juan Bautista, San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Rey, San Miguel Arcángel, Santa Barbara and Santa Ines. The photographs primarily show the missions’ front façades or courtyards, both in ruins and with slight repair work.
William Henry Jackson was born April 4, 1843, in Keeseville, New York. While growing up, Jackson taught himself how to paint and draw; at the age of 15, he was first exposed to photography through a job he took at a local photographer's studio. After serving in the Civil War, he went to Omaha, Nebraska, to help run a photography studio with his brothers. In 1869, Jackson was approached by Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, the head of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories, who asked Jackson to join his team. Jackson did so, and for the next seven years took photographs of hot springs, geysers, and mineral formations in the territory that is now Yellowstone National Park. After this project, Jackson began to take photographs of landmarks along the Union Pacific Railroad to sell to tourists. At some point between 1885 and 1890, Jackson traveled to California and took photographs of the California missions, which were then in ruins and being viewed in a romantic light as part of California's mythic past. To cater to tourists, Jackson photographed most, if not all, of the missions and sold them to the steady stream of sightseers. At the age of 81, Jackson swapped photography for painting, focusing on the development of the American West as his subjects. He died on June 30, 1942, in New York City at the age of 99.
39 albumen photographs 17.8 x 23.5 cm. (7 x 9 ¼ in.), on mounts measuring 20 x 25.5 cm. (8 x 10 in.)
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