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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: Adam Clark Vroman (1856-1916) Collection, 1895-1912
    Dates: 1895-1912 (glass negatives)/1920s-1930s (film positives)
    Collection Number: P-001
    Creator/Collector: Vroman, A. C. (Adam Clark), 1856-1916
    Extent: 54.7 linear feet (Boxes: letter, 5x7, 19 ov)
    Online items available
    Repository: Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
    Los Angeles, California 90007-4057
    Abstract: 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.
    Language of Material: English


    Research is by appointment only.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    Adam Clark Vroman (1856-1916) Collection, 1895-1912 . Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

    Acquisition Information

    The bulk of the collection was purchased from the estate of A. C. Vroman by the Los Angeles County School District before 1920, for use in the Audio-Visual Division. The collection was later transferred to the Los Angeles County Museum.

    Biography/Administrative History

    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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection numbers approximately 2,200 negatives made between 1895-1912 by Vroman. Much of the collection came from the Visual Education Division of the Los Angeles County Schools, thus the notation of the V.E.D. number on the inventory list. The collection is numbered and housed according to the original Vroman numbers. The finding aid is organized primarily by geographic region, with a small section organized by subject. Photographs taken by Vroman from 1895-1904 during his Southwest expeditions capture the daily lives and customs of American Indians living in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and areas of the Navajo Indian Reservation. These images include portraits of members of these communities as well as photographs of pueblos, mesas, cliff dwellings, the overall landscape of these regions, and photographs of stone carvings in Mexico. There are photographs taken by Vroman between 1895-1912 of many well-known sites in California such as Yosemite National Park, the Spanish missions, as well as buildings and scenes of nature in Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Diego, and other areas throughout the state.

    Indexing Terms

    Art objects, Japanese.
    Cliff dwellings–Arizona–1890-1930.
    Hopi Indians.
    Indian arts–United States.
    Indians of North America.
    Indians of North America–Antiquities.
    Indians of North America–Dwellings.
    Indians of North America–Portraits.
    Landscapes–Southwestern States.
    Monuments–Washington (D.C.)
    Navajo Indian Reservation
    Navajo Indians.
    Navajo textile fabrics.
    New Mexico.
    Pueblos–Southwestern states–Pictorial works.
    Spanish mission buildings–California.
    Vroman, A. C. (Adam Clark), 1856-1916
    Washington (D.C.)
    Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
    Zuni Indians.
    Vroman, A. C. (Adam Clark), 1856-1916

    Additional collection guides