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Photography in Library Special Collections

History of Photography and Celebrated Photographers

Library Special Collections houses a broad spectrum of photographic materials, with many fine examples of historical photographic processes, as well as numerous works from world renowned photographers from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Resources and search strategies:

Picture Collection (Collection 99) consists of a broad range of photographs from the 19th and 20thcentury. Minimal description of this collection is available online and patrons are advised to use the card catalog index and finding aids that are available at the reference desk on the A level of the Charles E. Young Research Library. This collection is an excellent resource for:

  • Examples of 19th century photographic processes, such as Daguerreotypes, and ambrotypes
  • Photographs of the early greater Los Angeles area, California missions, U.S. Civil War, and Latin America

Photographers’ Collection (Collection 98) consists of photographs and negatives of many well-known photographers from the 19th and 20thcentury. Minimal description of this collection is available online and patrons are advised to 

  • Works by 19th century British photographers Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carol, salt prints by Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill, and calotypes by William Henry Fox Talbot
  • Works by 19th century French photographer Gustave Le Gray and images of the Middle East by French photographer Felix Bonfils
  • Exploration of the American West in the 19th and early 20th century, with mammoth prints by Eadweard Muybridge, and photographs by Charles Lummis, William Henry Jackson, and George Wharton James
  • Works by 19th century American portrait photographers Napoleon Sarony and I. West Taber
  • Works by 20th century well known photographers, such as Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, Imogen Cunningham, Barbara Morgan, Eliot Porter, Carl Van Vechten, Bret Weston, Garry Winogrand, and Max Yavno
  • Works by Los Angeles area photographers Louis Fleckenstein and Burton Frasher
  • Works by Burton Holmes, turn of the 20th century American travel lecturer and photographer
  • African American 20th century portrait photographer James Van der Zee
  • H. H. West Collection - Henry Hebard West (known as H. H. West) was an amateur photographer who documented his life in Los Angeles and his travels around California and across the United States from about 1895 until his death in 1958.

Other collections with works by prominent photographers include:

Additional collections related to the history of photography:

Early examples of photography used for artwork reproductions

For additional resources in 19th century photography, see the Photographic Albums section of this guide.