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George P. Thresher Negative Collection of the Southwest: Finding Aid
photCL 449  
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Collection Details
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  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: George P. Thresher Negative Collection of the Southwest
    Dates (inclusive): approximately 1898-1910
    Collection Number: photCL 449
    Creator: Thresher, G. P. (George P.)
    Extent: 408 photographs in 8 boxes : 83 glass plate negatives and 129 film negatives in 7 boxes; 8 lantern slides and 188 copy prints made from the original negatives in 1 box.
    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: A collection of glass plate and film negatives by amateur photographer and Los Angeles real estate broker George P. Thresher (1854-1927) focusing on the American Southwest and Native Americans of the region, particularly of Arizona, and the Gila River crossing area, from ca. 1898 to 1910. Tribes depicted include Yuma, Apache, Navajo, Maricopa, Pima, and Papago (Tohono O’Odham). There are views of native peoples in their daily lives, as well as posing in studio portraits. There are also landscape and town views, including Phoenix, Arizona, Santa Fe, New Mexico, missions at San Antonio, Texas, and the Salt Lake Temple in Utah.
    Language: English.


    Advance arrangements for viewing negatives must be made with the Curator of Photographs. The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    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

    George P. Thresher Negative Collection of the Southwest. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Alta California Books, February 24, 1978.

    Biographical Note

    George P. Thresher was born on September 11, 1854, in Massachusetts and immigrated to California in 1895. Described variously as an amateur photographer and real estate developer, he lived in Los Angeles until his death in 1927 at the age of seventy-two. Between 1904 and 1926, Thresher appears in the Los Angeles business directories, often listed as a real estate broker with office addresses on either the 200 or 300 block of Broadway. At various points in his career, he served as the Director of the Artesian Company of Los Angeles and the Vice President of the Los Angeles Building Company. He married Florence Evans Stone in 1878 and they had three daughters together. From 1905 until his death, he resided at 37 Westmoreland Place in Los Angeles.
    Thresher took up photography at some point in his life, concentrating his efforts on California and the Southwest. A few of his photographs depicting missions and similar subjects appear in books by noted lecturer, author, and promoter, George Wharton James. James credited images to Thresher in The Old Franciscan Missions of California (1913), In and Out of the Missions of California (1906), and Through Ramona’s Country (1909). Thresher eventually sold his negatives to Charles C. Pierce, the proprietor of a large photographic supply business and studio as well as the largest picture library in Los Angeles. Once Pierce purchased a photographer’s images, he rarely credited the creator, stamping his own name on the print instead. This practice may explain some of the confusion surrounding attribution of Thresher’s prints, which are variously credited to Pierce and George Wharton James. Adding to the confusion, some of Thresher’s negatives in the Huntington collection appear to be copies of images by other photographers of the period.
    • Information drawn from County of Los Angeles death certificate and “Western History-Material” document at the Los Angeles Public Library. Copies of both documents are in the collection file.
    • Letter from C.C. Pierce to Leslie E. Bliss, Librarian at the Huntington, November 16, 1933. See C.C. Pierce Collection File (photCL Pierce), Photo Archives. See also the C.C. Pierce Collection finding aid  for more information on Pierce and his business.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    A collection of glass plate and film negatives by amateur photographer and Los Angeles real estate broker George P. Thresher (1854-1927) focusing on the American Southwest and Native Americans of the region, particularly of Arizona, and the Gila River crossing area, from ca. 1898 to 1910. The majority of the Thresher Collection contains images of towns and sites in Arizona, including Phoenix, Mission San Xavier del Bac, Montezuma Castle, Peach Springs, and adobe ruins. Photographs of Texas are well represented in the collection, including many views of Missions San Concepcion, San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo), San Francisco de la Espada, and Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo. There are also images of Colorado (Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, and Castle Rock), New Mexico (Santa Fe, Tesuque, and possibly Laguna), and unidentified pueblos. Notable portraits from California are of Victoriano, chief of the Soboba Indians, and his unnamed third wife. There is a separate and very interesting sequence of images depicting the Mount Beauty Mine and its operations in San Diego County, California.
    A small assortment of lantern slides is at the end of the collection showing Indians of Arizona, California, and New Mexico (191-198). There are no copy prints for the following negatives: (16), (23.1), (33), (40.1), (45.1), (63), (80.1), (96), (111), (120-122), (131), (136-137), and (157).
    It appears that the Thresher images at the Huntington are a sub-section of a larger collection that the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, purchased in 1978. The Thresher photographs at the Bancroft depict the California Missions and various scenes in Los Angeles and California generally from 1899 through 1916. See William Roberts, “California Views of George P. Thresher,” in Bancroftiana (November 1981), pp. 3-4.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  
    Adobe houses -- Photographs.
    Apache Indians -- Photographs.
    Hopi Indians -- Photographs.
    Indians of North America—Funeral customs and rites -- Photographs.
    Indians of North America—Southwest, New -- Photographs.
    Luiseño Indians -- Photographs.
    Maricopa Indians -- Photographs.
    Mines and mineral resources--California--San Diego County -- Photographs.
    Mission San Antonio de Valero -- Photographs.
    Mission Concepción (San Antonio, Tex.) -- Photographs.
    Mission San Francisco de la Espada (San Antonio, Tex.) -- Photographs.
    Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo (San Antonio, Tex.) -- Photographs.
    Mission San Xavier del Bac (Tucson, Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Missions, Spanish -- Photographs.
    Montezuma Castle (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Navajo Indians -- Photographs.
    Salt Lake Temple -- Photographs.
    Sihasapa Indians -- Photographs.
    Tohono O’Odham Indians -- Photographs.
    Ute Indians -- Photographs.
    Wickiups -- Photographs.
    Yuma Indians -- Photographs.
    Buckskin Charlie, Ute chief -- Photographs.
    Casa Grande (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Castle Rock (Colo.) -- Photographs.
    Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, Colo.) -- Photographs.
    Gila River (N.M. and Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Las Vegas Hot Springs (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Peach Springs (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Phoenix (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
    Pike’s Peak (Colo.) -- Photographs.
    Pueblo of Laguna (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Salt Lake City (Utah) -- Photographs.
    Santa Fe (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Tesuque Pueblo (N.M.) -- Photographs.
    Film negatives.
    Glass negatives.
    Lantern Slides.