Yale University Library
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Western Americana Collection

Carleton E. Watkins, The Maskelyne Tunnel, Marysville, Montana [1880s]. Mammoth plate albumen print from collodion wet plate glass negative, approx. 38.5 x 54 cm. Mammoth Plate Photographs of the North American West, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, WA Photos Folio 1, Folder 13.

Web address http://www.library.yale.edu/beinecke/brblinfo/brblguide_wa.html
Location121 Wall Street, New Haven
Access policyhttp://www.library.yale.edu/beinecke/brblinfo/brblvisi.html
ContactGeorge Miles
Email addressgeorge.miles@yale.edu; beinecke.library@yale.edu
Number of photographsApproximately 275,000
Date range1845–present
Geographic coverage

American West; Canadian Trans-Mississippi West; eastern United States


Edward Curtis; Richard Erdoes; G.R. Fardon; Lee Friedlander; Miguel Gandert; Alexander Gardner; F. Jay Haynes; John Hillers; Humphrey Lloyd Hime; Thomas Houseworth; William Henry Jackson; Jon Lewis; Owen Luck; Charles Lummis; Walter McClintock; David Grant Noble; Timothy O’Sullivan; David Ottenstein; David Plowden; A.J. Russell; William Soule; I.W. Taber; Toba Tucker; Julian Vannerson; Carleton Watkins; John Willis; Winter & Pond


The photographic holdings of the Yale Collection of Western Americana span the history of photography from daguerreotypes and salted paper prints to the work of contemporary photographers. The collections, which include examples of virtually every format and photographic process, document the people and places of the Trans-Mississippi West, as well as the social, cultural, and economic history of photography in and about the American West. Subjects include Native Americans, Western landscapes and city views, National Parks, geological surveys, economic development (mining, lumbering, industry). Materials include family photography, photographically illustrated books, and stereographic photography.


These materials support research about individual photographers, about the spread of photography in the West, and about the evolving visual representation of the West and its inhabitants. The collections include both public and private photographs; that is, those made for sale and those made for personal consumption. It also includes extensive holdings of portrait photography of Native Americans made in eastern cities, as well as photographs of Native American communities from the eastern United States.


The collection is one of the largest devoted to the social and cultural history of photography in the American West. Collected to support research, teaching, and learning about the history and culture of the American West and about American history in general. the collection brings together in one place many works often held elsewhere in smaller, less focused collections and includes several unique archival collections as well as individual images that seem to be unique.

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