Robert S. Watt Photograph Collection: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Diann Benti and Suzanne Oatey.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
© 2018
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Overview of the Collection

Title: Robert S. Watt Photograph Collection
Dates (inclusive): approximately 1890-1928
Collection Number: photCL 395
Extent: 248 photographs in 4 boxes : prints and glass plate negatives + 2 certificates
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: A collection of photographs approximately 1890-1928 of miner Robert S. Watt and family living in the mountains of Los Angeles County. Assorted views include the Watt Mines Supply Co., Los Angeles; prospecting; hunting; Los Angeles buildings and oil wells; and miscellaneous scenes of Alaska.
Language: English.


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], Robert S. Watt Photograph Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Gift of Richard Van Vorst from the Watt family estate, July 1969.

Biographical Note

The 1912 Los Angeles City Directory lists Robert S. Watt, president of Watt Mines Supply Co. and Arthur B. Watt, assistant superintendent. In 1914, the company is no longer listed and Robert S. Watt is listed as a mining engineer.

Scope and Content

These photographs document daily activities and places visited by the Watt family and unidentified others in and around Los Angeles. There are various unidentified scenes of people hunting, cabins in the woods, horses, and a few group portraits, with some names. Other views show ships and a harbor, possibly in San Pedro, California; Los Angeles buildings (Plaza Church and County Courthouse) and oil wells; a group portrait (item 113) of Los Angeles County Hospital Nurses in 1905, with names written on back. Mining activities include the Watt Mines Supply Co. building; men at an excavation; stamp mill machinery; a man standing at entrance to mine; mule teams with supplies. There is also a group of photographs of Alaska, showing trappers, roadhouses, scenery, and one miner staking a claim on a river. The collection also includes U.S. citizenship papers for Robert S. Watt (1890), and Alexander Barrie (1901), both emigrants from Scotland. The majority of photographs are unidentified, but some have identifications written on the back, including names of Watt family members and others.


Box 1 contains copy prints made from the glass negatives and other photographic prints of various sizes. Boxes 2-4 contain 91 glass negatives.

Indexing Terms

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


Citizenship -- United States.
Frontier and pioneer life -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Photographs.
Miners -- California -- San Gabriel Mountains -- Photographs.
Nurses -- Photographs.
Oil fields -- California -- Photographs.
Alaska -- Photographs.
Angeles National Forest (Calif.) -- Photographs.
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Photographs.
San Gabriel Mountains (Calif.) -- Photographs.


Glass negatives.

Collection Contents


Photographs and certificates

Box 1

Photographic prints


Copy prints of ships and harbor

Item(s) 1-19

Views of ships, beach, harbor, and pier in the San Pedro area (?), including U.S.S. West Virginia, approximately 1910s

Item 11 is a view of the pier and Ship Café on the Venice Beach Pier.

Los Angeles views

Item(s) 20-27

Oil derricks. [See also Item 158]

Item(s) 28, 28a, 28b

Los Angeles Plaza Church with Pacific Electric trolley in front.

Item(s) 29, 29a, 29b

Los Angeles County Courthouse.

Item(s) 30

Eastlake Park.

Item(s) 31

Two-story residence with address number 1637.


Miscellaneous buildings

Item(s) 32, 32a

Jeffries’ Vernon Arena

Item(s) 33, 33a

Rear of Watt Mines Supply Co. (2418-2430 Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles)

Item(s) 34, 34a.

San Pedro Lumber Co.

Item(s) 35-39

Front exterior of Watt Mines Supply Co. building (2418-2430 Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, R. S. Watt, president)

Item(s) 39 variant

Views of front exterior of Watt Mines Supply Co. building with sign "Watt, Mines Supply Co., Mining Machinery Ores Tested, Plants Installed Wet or Dry" (2418-2430 Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles)


Los Angeles area views.

Item(s) 40, 40a

Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro, as seen from rocky beach.

Item(s) 41, 41a

Woman on rocky shore (Point Fermin, San Pedro)

Item(s) 42, 42a

Mission San Gabriel (See also 92-94)

Item(s) 43, 43a

Mission San Fernando (See also 95)


Unidentified people.

Item(s) 44

Two men and dog outside cabin with dog and laundry on line.

Item(s) 45, 45a

Two men at excavation

Item(s) 46

Two men with shovels

Item(s) 47

Man reclining outdoors in forest with dog.

Item(s) 48, 48a

Group portrait of five men, two women, child. One man holding puppy, other men holding rifles, women holding shot rabbits.

Item(s) 49, 49a

Five men outside two cabins with mountains in background.

Item(s) 50, 50a

Portrait of young man

Item(s) 51, 51a

Young man in woods with rifle

Item(s) 52, 52a

Young man in woods

Item(s) 53, 53a, 54, 54a

Group portrait of four men, two women, child seated outdoors

Item(s) 55, 55a

Men and women in informal pose among trees

Item(s) 56, 56a and 57, 57a

Men, women, child on horseback posed in front of water tower

Item(s) 58, 58a

Group portrait of older men and women in hats in front of house in foothills.


Miscellaneous. [Landscape scenes, San Gabriel Mountains?]

Item(s) 59, 59a

Graveyard [San Gabriel Mission Cemetery?]

Item(s) 60, 60a

Beehive apiary in foothill mountains

Item(s) 61, 61a

Cabins in mountainous setting

Item(s) 62-79

Mountain scenes

Item(s) 80

Tree-lined road

Item(s) 81

Trees by water

Item(s) 82

Two palm trees

Item(s) 83

Mining machinery (?)

Item(s) 84-86 and duplicates

Stamp mill parts(?)

Item(s) 87, 87a

Lion in cage

Item(s) 88, 88a

Deer in enclosure

Item(s) 89, 89a

Man in field overlooking ocean.

Item(s) 90, 90a, 91, 91a

Four unidentified [industrial?] objects


Photos without negatives

Item(s) 92

San Gabriel Mission (mounted photo) [photographer imprint: W. N. Spranger]

Item(s) 93

The bells of San Gabriel Mission (mounted photo) [photographer imprint: W. N. Spranger]

Item(s) 93a

Old choir stairs, San Gabriel Mission (mounted photo) [photographer imprint: W. N. Spranger]

Item(s) 94

Mission San Fernando

Item(s) 95

Taken on Watt Ranch, Gold Creek, Little Tujunga. Group photo. Identified on verso: Robert Barrie White, Mrs. Robert S. Watt (mother), Arthur Barrie White. [Located in Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County]

Item(s) 96-97

Watt Ranch (with grazing deer)

Item(s) 98

Robert Scott Watt [Robert S.] on ranch with rifle and dog (card photo)

Item(s) 99

Ethel D. Watt

Item(s) 100-103

Snapshots in envelope labeled “Watt Family"

Item(s) 104

Man working at desk (Watt?), cuspidor on floor and sign for "Purcell & Kern Insurance" on desk.

Item(s) 105

Man standing at entrance to mine

Item(s) 106

Group of Indian women in street

Item(s) 107

Woman feeding a sheep

Item(s) 108

Woman standing in front of flock of goats

Item(s) 109

Young couple (man wearing cowboy hat)

Item(s) 110

Man and child under torii gate

Item(s) 111

Nancy Russell and horse with lasso on saddle

Item(s) 112

Charlie Russell in studio at Great Falls, Nevada

Item(s) 113

Los Angeles County Hospital Nurses picnic group portrait, April 15, 1905. 35 people identified on verso. (Mounted photo.)

Item(s) 114

Ostrich farm

Item(s) 115

Mule team in mountains

Item(s) 116

Team of horses, pulling wagon, tractor in desert

Item(s) 117

Woman, child standing by hopper cars

Item(s) 118-119

Cabins in rocky landscape

Item(s) 120

Road lined with trees

Item(s) 121

Hillside landscape

Item(s) 122

Lily (?) ponds, with tall plants, trees in background

Item(s) 123

Chutes Park, Los Angeles

Item(s) 124

Child on beach at Long Beach, California

Item(s) 125

View of ocean



Item(s) 126

Valdez street. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 127

Valdez street in snow, April 16, 1928.

Item(s) 128

Community tree, Seward, Christmas 1926.

Item(s) 129

Community tree, Christmas 1926. Photo by Lieut. Homer K. Jones.

Item(s) 130

First fox farm in Alaska. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 131

Owner and roadhouse, Teikhell. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 132

Roadhouse at Paxson. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 133

Roadhouse, Upper Tonsina. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 134

Tanana Store. General merchandise.

Item(s) 135

Hotel Gilder

Item(s) 136

Woman at entrance to Seattle Hotel

Item(s) 137

Restaurant in snowy landscape

Item(s) 138

Group in doorway of Alaska Road Commission, Salcha Station, July 10, 1927. (People identified on verso.)

Item(s) 139

“Author in A.R.C. camp at Poplar Grove. Note wolf pup and headnet.” Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 140

“Cabin and barn at Willow Creek. Cabin with sod roof and dirt floor and full of books, aluminum utensils, white enamel kitchen cabinet, cream separator, etc.” Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 141, 141a

“Trapper-artist and his cabin and ‘chariot’ at Rapids, Alaska.” Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 142

Trapper’s cabin and cache. “Where the host was absent and the coffee was made in the tea-kettle.” Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 143-149

Photos of various cabins. No information except remark on #143: “Typical.”

Item(s) 150

Horseshoe bend of Gulkana River. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 151

Tanana River at Richardson Roadhouse. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 152

The bay at Seldovia. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 153

Bridge across Tazlina River. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 154

Resurrection Bay from Lost Lake Trail, Seward, Oct. 1926.

Item(s) 155

Richardson Trail. Photo by J. Ironside.

Item(s) 156

Mountainous landscape

Item(s) 157

Dashley’s Thawer. Superior Claim, Inmachuk River, Sep. 23, 1903. Nowell photo. [Man with large piece of equipment at river's edge. Gold claim(?).]


Oil derricks

Item(s) 158

Line of oil derricks along the horizon (19 x 33 cm) [previously framed]


Certificates of Citizenship, United States of America

MS 1

August 22, 1890. Robert S. Watt, formerly of Scotland.

MS 2

January 5, 1901. Alexander Barrie, formerly of Scotland.


Glass Plate Negatives

Box 2

Negatives 1-31

Box contains 13 x 18 (5 x 7 inch) glass negatives, except for Items 13, 20-29, 31, which are 10 x 12.5 cm (4 x 5 inch) glass negatives.
Box 3

Negatives 32-61

Box contains 13 x 18 (5 x 7 inch) glass negatives, except for Items 44-47, 50-52, 55-57, which are 10 x 12.5 cm (4 x 5 inch) glass negatives.
Box 4

Negatives 62-91

Box contains 13 x 18 (5 x 7 inch) glass negatives, except for Items 70-80, 83, which are 10 x 12.5 cm (4 x 5 inch) glass negatives.