Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
Adam Clark Vroman was an amateur photographer and bookstore owner. He made several expeditions to the Southwest from his home in Pasadena, California, to photograph the American Indians living in Arizona and New Mexico at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Included is a visual account of these expeditions which were led by the late Dr. Frederick Webb Hodge to the pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona. Over half of this collection deals with the ruins of ancient cliff dwellings and with the life, customs, and activities of the American Indians of the Southwest. Many are pictured in "Photographer of the Southwest" and "Dwellers at the Source." The rest of the collection is primarily concerned with Yosemite Valley, the California missions before restoration, Pasadena and surrounding areas. There are also negatives of a trip taken by Vroman to the Eastern United States. These images include Illinois, Pennsylvania, and the Library of Congress. Vroman photographed in Japan in 1909 and in Europe in 1912.
Adam Clark Vroman (1856-1916), a native of LaSalle, Illinois, moved to Pasadena, California, in 1892. He was an amateur field photographer who worked primarily with glass plate photography and was the founder of Vroman’s Bookstore located in Pasadena. His impressive body of photographic work from the late 1890s and early 1900s documents his multiple expeditions to the pueblos and mesas of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, several of these trips alongside Dr. Frederick Webb Hodge with the Bureau of American Ethnology. Vroman’s close friendship with the natives, notably the Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo, allowed him to capture intimate images of their daily lives and customs as well as the lands that they inhabited. These photographs provide a stark contrast from common depictions of the time period that portrayed American Indian peoples as either exotic subjects or as savages. His work during this period also reflects his extreme fondness of the glowing, superior quality of light found in the Southwest region. During these expeditions he worked primarily with a 6 ½” x 8 ½” view camera as well as with 4”x5” and 5”x7” cameras. Between 1895 and 1905, Vroman documented the interiors and exteriors of the Spanish missions in California prior to the restoration of the buildings. He photographed areas in California such as Pasadena, Yosemite National Park, as well as the eastern region of the United States, including Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Vroman was also an avid art collector with an interest in the crafts of Native Americans and treasures from Japan and the Far East. He spent the last years of his life traveling to the East Coast and Canada, as well as to Japan and to countries in Europe. He died in Altadena, California, in 1916 of intestinal cancer.
54.7 linear feet (Boxes: letter, 5x7, 19 ov)
Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the Seaver Center. The Seaver Center does not claim copyright to images, however it is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission from any copyright holder. In addition culturally-sensitive materials, including photographs of ceremonies and sacred places of Native Americans, are restricted in their use and are not available for reproduction or publication.
Research is by appointment only.