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Russell (Orville Alburtus) Color Transparency Collection
AR.2008.002  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Custodial History
  • Processing Information
  • Other Finding Aids

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Mojave Desert Archives
    Title: O. A. Russell Color Transparency Collection
    creator: Russell, O. A. (Orville Alburtus), 1906-1998
    creator: Russell, Esther Vanetta (Penrose), 1913-2003
    Identifier/Call Number: AR.2008.002
    Physical Description: 6.2 Linear Feet - 15 Deep Lid Boxes
    Physical Description: 7896 Photographic Transparencies
    Date (inclusive): 1950-1989
    Abstract: The O. A. Russell Color Transparency Collection is a collection of nearly 8,000 color transparencies taken by O. A. Russell and his wife, Esther, during their annual automobile vacations away from managing their Calico Motel operation in Yermo, California. The Russells traveled throughout the western United States from the 1950s through the 1980s, visiting scenic locations in the states of Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Nevada. Russell was an accomplished mid-century film photographer in an era before autofocus, built-in light meters, and digital images.

    Scope and Contents

    The O. A. Russell Color Transparency Collection is a collection of nearly 8,000 color transparencies of scenic vacation spots in the western United States. The photographic materials are comprised both 120 format and 35mm color film. This collection is arranged by state, location, and year.

    Biographical / Historical

    Orville Alburtus Russell was born November 18, 1906 in Carroll County, Ohio. Russell was too young to fight in WWI and too old to fight in WWII. Although he had only an eighth grade education, he taught himself radio repair, photography, and woodworking. Taking time off from their motel business, the Russells traveled throughout the western United States from the 1950s through the 1980s, visiting scenic locations primarily in the states of Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Nevada.
    By the late 1920s, Russell was living in Los Angeles County, California, and had a radio repair service in Pomona. Russell was introduced to photography about 1926 by photographer Walter Fiss. During WWII, Russell moved to Daggett, California, in the Mojave Desert, to work on aircraft at the Barstow-Daggett Airport. Following WWII he moved back to Pomona but decided he preferred the desert.
    Russell envisioned the need for a motel along old Route 91 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas (now Interstate 15) near the turnoff to Calico ghost town in Yermo, California. He sold the radio repair business in Pomona and, along with his second wife, Esther Vanetta (Penrose) Russell, lived in a tent while they built the Calico Motel from the ground up. It was during the Calico Motel years that the Russells took the travel photography found in this collection.
    The Russells enjoyed traveling throughout the western United States and took thousands of color transparencies along the way. In the early years there was no television at the Calico Motel, so Russell would present slide shows of their travels to guests. Expressing his love of the western United States through his photography, O. A. Russell encouraged guests of the Calico Motel to also explore the beauty and mining history of the nearby Calico Mountains.
    In later years, Russell had to leave the motel due to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. He passed away on September 30, 1998. Esther carried on the motel operation for a while but eventually left it in the hands of a caretaker and moved to live near her nephew, Charles A. Corder of Tucson, Arizona, until her death in 2003.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Property rights reside with the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Archivist at the Mojave Desert Archives.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research. For access, please contact the Archivist at the Mojave Desert Archives at archivist@mdhca.org.

    Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in 15 series by state, at the subseries level by locale, and chronologically by year for destinations the Russells revisited over the years.

    Preferred Citation

    O. A. Russell Color Transparency Collection. AR-2008-002. Mojave Desert Archives, Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association, Goffs, California. Date accessed.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Archivist, Mojave Desert Archives, 37198 Lanfair Road # G-15, Essex, CA 92332. Consent is given on behalf of the Mojave Desert Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association purchased the collection from Charles A. Corder, September 8, 2008.

    Custodial History

    Custody has remained with the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association following its purchase from Esther Russell's nephew, Charles A. Corder, by the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association on September 8, 2008.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Chris Ervin and Leslie Ervin, 2017 April. Assistance was provided by Sue Jaussaud, Stella Lind, Cheryl Mangin, Shirley Roby, and Mignon Slentz.

    Other Finding Aids

    Subseries details are listed in OA Russell Slide Inventory 20170401.xlsx.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    West (U.S.)
    Travel photography
    Russell, O. A. (Orville Alburtus), 1906-1998
    Russell, Esther Vanetta (Penrose), 1913-2003