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Carleton E. Watkins Photograph Collection: Finding Aid
photCL 74  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Carleton E. Watkins Photograph Collection
    Dates (inclusive): approximately 1860s-approximately 1880
    Collection Number: photCL 74
    Creator: Watkins, Carleton E., 1829-1916
    Extent: 653 photographs in 9 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains 430 photographs by photographer Carleton E. Watkins that chiefly depict buildings, points of interest, and locales in Northern and Southern California in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as 223 photographs by photographer Alfred A. Hart documenting the construction of the western half of the transcontinental railroad by the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) in the 1860s, which were later published by Watkins under his own imprint.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Carleton E. Watkins Photograph Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Provenance uncertain. The album was recorded as being part of the personal library of Henry E. Huntington on April 26, 1928, and is presumed to have been the gift of Carleton E. Watkins to Collis P. Huntington. Henry Huntington was the executor of Collis P. Huntington’s estate.

    Processing/Project Information

    The photographs were removed from the original presentation album by Huntington staff in the 1970s. The order of the photographs as found in the presentation album was not maintained, though in some instances the album page number is indicated on the back of the photograph in pencil. The photographs were rehoused in mylar and acid-free boxes in 1996.

    Biographical Note

    Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916) was born in 1829 in Oneonta, New York. In 1851, he migrated to Sacramento, California in the company of businessman Collis P. Huntington and several other residents of Oneonta. He began his photographic career as an apprentice to established San Francisco Bay area studio photographers Robert H. Vance (1825–1876) and James May Ford (c. 1827–1877).
    Watkins photographed Yosemite for the first time in 1861. His large-scale images inspired President Abraham Lincoln and the United States Congress to declare Yosemite the nation’s first national preserve in 1864. By the end of the American Civil War, the photographer had become one of the medium’s leading lights, winning prestigious commissions and international awards.
    Over the course of his career, Watkins operated studios at various Montgomery Street addresses in San Francisco. Around 1869, he purchased Alfred A. Hart’s stereographic negatives documenting the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad. Watkins subsequently published Hart’s negatives under the series title: “Watkins Central Pacific Railroad.”
    Watkins suffered severe financial reverses in 1875, losing his negative inventory to competitor Isaiah H. Taber. From that point onward, Watkins published negatives under the “New Series” heading.
    In 1879, Watkins married Frances Henrietta Snead. The couple had two children, Julia (1881–1977) and Collis (1883–1965). By the early 1890s, declining health forced Watkins to curtail his activities. He took his last major commission in 1894, photographing the Phoebe Apperson Hearst residence, Hacienda del Pozo de Verona, in Pleasanton, California. The earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed Watkins’s San Francisco studio and its contents. Shortly thereafter, he entered the Napa State Asylum for the Insane in Napa, California, where he died in 1916.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains 430 photographs by photographer Carleton E. Watkins that chiefly depict buildings, points of interest, and locales in Northern and Southern California in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as 223 photographs by photographer Alfred A. Hart documenting the construction of the western half of the transcontinental railroad by the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) in the 1860s, which were later published by Watkins under his own imprint.
    Images by Watkins depict locations in Arizona and California including: Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, the Mammoth Tree Grove, Paso Robles, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Gabriel, San Luis Obispo, San Pedro, Santa Monica, Soda Springs, Wilmington, and Yosemite, as well as views related to the Southern Pacific Railroad and of the Colorado River.
    Photograph titles in the contents list were transcribed, when available, from captions and titles on the images; titles in square brackets were devised by Huntington Library staff.

    Alternative Form of Materials Available

    Visit the Huntington Digital Library: Photographs   to view digitized items from this collection.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library

    Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in 9 boxes in the following order:
    • A.A. Hart views of the Central Pacific Railroad (Boxes 1-3: Items 1-223)
    • Carleton E. Watkins photographs (Boxes 3-9: Items 224-653)
    • Photograph album bindings

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Carter, Nathaniel Coburn, 1840- -- Homes and haunts -- Photographs.
    Rose, L. J. (Leonard John), 1827-1899 -- Homes and haunts -- Photographs.
    Central Pacific Railroad Company -- Photographs.
    Southern Pacific Railroad Company -- Photographs.
    North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company -- Photographs.
    Agriculture -- California -- Photographs.
    Cactus -- Photographs.
    Dwellings -- California -- Photographs.
    Lakes -- California -- Photographs.
    Locomotives -- Photographs.
    Mining camps -- California -- Photographs.
    Mountains -- California -- Photographs.
    Orchards -- California -- Photographs.
    Railroad companies -- West (U.S.) -- Photographs.
    Railroad bridges -- California -- Photographs.
    Railroad tracks -- California -- Photographs.
    Railroad tracks -- Nevada -- Photographs.
    Railroad tracks -- Utah -- Photographs.
    Railroads -- United States -- History -- 19th century -- Photographs.
    Trees -- California -- Photographs.
    Vineyards -- California -- San Gabriel -- Photographs.
    Waterfalls -- California -- Yosemite Valley -- Photographs.
    Wineries -- California -- San Gabriel -- Photographs.
    Arizona -- Photographs.
    Auburn (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    California -- Photographs.
    Cisco (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Colfax (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Donner Pass (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Dutch Flat (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Nevada -- Photographs.
    Pasadena (Calif.)-- Photographs.
    Placer County (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Reno (Nev.) -- Photographs.
    San Gabriel (Calif.)-- Photographs.
    San Francisco (Calif.)-- Photographs.
    San Marino (Calif.)-- Photographs.
    Sierra Madre (Calif.)-- Photographs.
    Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.) -- Photographs.
    Soda Springs (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Sunny Slope Ranch (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.) -- Photographs.
    Truckee River (Calif. and Nev.) -- Photographs.
    West (U.S.) -- Photographs.
    Wilmington (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Yosemite Valley (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Yuba River (Calif.) -- Photographs.

    Forms/Genres

    Albumen photographs.
    Photographs.

    Contributors

    Hart, Alfred A., 1816-1908, photographer.
    Central Pacific Railroad Company.