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Finding Aid to the William Ashburner Collection of Photographs from the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, 1867-circa 1875 (bulk 1867-1869)
BANC PIC 1957.027--ffALB  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Additional Notes on Collection
  • General Note
  • General Note

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: William Ashburner collection of photographs from the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel
    Date (inclusive): 1867-circa 1875
    Date (bulk): 1867-1869
    Collection Number: BANC PIC 1957.027--ffALB
    Collector: Ashburner, William, 1831-1887
    Extent: 148 mounted photographic prints : albumen ; images chiefly 20 x 27 cm, mounts 46 x 62 cm. 149 digital objects
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: Views of natural features and scenery, members of the survey party and their camps. Locations include the Sierra Nevada range of California and Nevada and numerous sites in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Several Central Pacific Railroad views are included.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    RESTRICTED ORIGINALS. USE VIEWING PRINTS or DIGITAL FACSIMILES ONLY: Viewing prints shelved as BANC PIC 1957.027--PIC :|bUse of originals only by permission of the appropriate curator. Inquiries concerning these materials should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William Ashburner collection of photographs from the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, BANC PIC 1957.027--ffALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Central Pacific Railroad Company--Pictorial works
    United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel (1867-1881)
    Idaho--Pictorial works
    Nevada--Pictorial works
    Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)--Pictorial works
    Utah--Pictorial works
    West (U.S.) -- Discovery and exploration -- Pictorial works
    Wyoming--Pictorial works
    Albumen prints

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    Bulk presented in 1884-1885 to the University Library by survey party member William Ashburner, with four later additions from the collection of Francis P. Farquhar.


    Arranged in numerical order, with item numbers found (in 19th century hand) on each mount. These numbers, although original to the set, do not match numbers that are on negatives and visible in some prints, and the numbering is not chronologically sequential.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The William Ashburner collection of photographs from the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel is a set of 144 large format photographic prints taken on the Clarence King surveys of 1867-1869. The photographs are chiefly by Timothy O'Sullivan, although some have been re-attributed to Andrew J. Russell. This set belonged to survey party member (and later University of California regent) William Ashburner, and is believed to have been compiled by or for him, personally.
    The set is focused on the western portion of the King Survey and includes locations in California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Each mount bears a manuscript caption, in pencil, at the lower right edge. (These captions were later traced over in pen, sometimes obscuring legibility.) The collection is arranged according to numbers original to the set, written below each image. This numbering differs from other sets of views from this survey. The set begins with views of survey camps and group portraits of survey members, taken in various (unidentified) locations. The remainder follow a geographical progression, roughly west-to-east, from California's Mono Lake and Donner Pass, through northern Nevada and northern Utah, to Shoshone Falls, Idaho and the southwest corner of Wyoming. The East Humboldt Mountains, Wastach Mountains and Uinta Mountains are heavily represented, as are Shoshone Falls and Virginia City and the Washoe mining district of Nevada. The set ends with views that appear to be out of geographic sequence, with some California (Sierra Nevada) scenes, Central Pacific Railroad scenes (in unidentified locations), and images of several Native Americans.
    Some of the Utah views (near Salt Lake City and in the Uinta Mountains), although long credited to O'Sullivan, have been re-attributed to Andrew J. Russell and dated to 1869, based on research by Glenn Willumson (in Framing the west: the survey photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan. Yale Univ. Press, 2010. p. 177-185). These prints are slightly larger in size (up to about 23 x 28.5 cm) than those with unquestioned attributions to O'Sullivan. Willumson's re-attributions to Russell have not been universally accepted at the time of issue of this finding aid, so both photographers' names remain associated with questionable items in this listing.
    The Ashburner collection, its arrangement, and its sometimes-unique captioning has been discussed in detail by Francois Brunet, in his article "Revisiting the Enigmas of Timothy O'Sullivan" (History of Photography v. 31 no. 2 (Summer 2007) p. 97-133).
    Four additional photographs by O'Sullivan have been appended, by the Library, to the end of the Ashburner set (items 145-148). These four items were a gift to the library from historian Francis P. Farquhar.
    Six of the original 144 images have been missing from the set for decades, including all four views of the Mono Lake region (items 9-12). Captions for these items are present on the manuscript listing that accompanies the photographs, probably made at the time the set was given to the university, circa 1885. The captions have been included in this guide.


    Seven items bear O'Sullivan's monogram in the negative: "T.H.O'S." Many items are numbered in the negative in a sequence that does not match ink numberings on mounts. In some cases these numbers have been noted in the item descriptions in this guide, but this has not been done thoroughly.

    Additional Notes on Collection

    Formerly housed in 2 volumes, apparently bound by the library.
    On printed mounts, with ms. captions. Captions differ from official captions found elsewhere, but seem to have been made by a survey member. Within the item descriptions in this guide, title variations found on copies elsewhere have often been noted. The variants found are chiefly from the holdings of the Library of Congress (LoC) or the George Eastman House (GEH).

    General Note

    Formerly classified, by Library, as ff/F594.U55. Labels remain on each mount.

    General Note

    Exact dates and print measurements, when supplied in item descriptions, have been provided by researcher Susan Williams, former curator at the Oakland Museum of California.