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AGS Library Photographic Collections


A significant part of the AGS Library is an extensive photographic collection, currently including nearly 584,000 images in a variety of formats. Many of the photographs were originally donated to the American Geographical Society to illustrate its publications, such as the Bulletin and Geographical Review. These photographic prints have been organized using the AGS Photo Regional and Topical Classification systems.

Distinct Photographic Collections
Many photographic images in the AGS Library are parts of distinct photographic collections that reflect a broad range of times, places and activities. The following list is a sample of the more prominent photographic collections in the AGS Library. A more detailed overview of the photographic resources appears in Kaleidoscope of History: Photographic Collections in the Golda Meir Library (1990), several copies of which are in the UWM Libraries’ holdings. Kaleidoscope of History is also available for purchase through the AGS Library.

Polar Exploration Collection – A strength of the AGS Library is the number of photographs pertaining to the discovery and exploration of the polar regions. Examples include prints of Greenland taken during the Isaac Israel Hayes Arctic exploration of 1860-61 and stereoscopic slides from the Arctic expedition of Count Hans Wilczek aboard the SS Isbjörn in 1872. Images in the form of prints, glass plate negatives and lantern slides document the aero-navigation feats of Roald Amundsen, Lincoln Ellsworth, Umberto Nobile, Richard Byrd and Sir Hubert Wilkins. Also included are large collections of prints from the eight Arctic expeditions of Louise A. Boyd and from the Grenfell-Forbes expedition to northern Labrador.

Western Photograph Collection – This collection consists of albumen prints and stereoscopicslides by the photographers of the four great western surveys. These works include: 64 prints by William Henry Jackson, photographer with the Hayden survey, of Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the Moqui Indian Pueblos of Arizona; 6 prints of the Grand Canyon region by John K. Hillers, photographer with the Powell survey; 49 prints and stereoscopic slides by William Bell, photographer with the Wheeler survey; and 441 prints and stereoscopic slides by Timothy O’Sullivan, photographer with the King and Wheeler surveys. Also included in this collection are 54 mammoth size prints of Yosemite by Eadweard J. Muybridge and 76 prints by Carleton E. Watkins.

Ralph M. Aderman Collection – The Ralph M. Aderman Collection contains over 2,900 color slides covering 25 European countries, and three distinct world regions. These images were collected during personal travel spanning the years 1966-1993. All images are credited to Aderman.

Dr. Isaiah Bowman Collection - Before Dr. Isaiah Bowman became Director of the American Geographical Society Library he made three expeditions to South America while teaching at Yale University. Each trip has a slightly different inventory, but all are based directly from Dr. Bowman’s notes.

Louise Arner Boyd Photographic Collection – The Louise A. Boyd Collection consists of over 3,000 prints and negatives depicting Poland, former Czechslovakia, Germany, Scandinavia, Danzig Free State, Tilsit (now Sovetsk), and Greenland in the 1930s. Topics include agriculture, industry, Laplander life and customs. The collection is primarily dedicated to rural and village life in Poland taken by Louise Arner Boyd while traveling by car in 1934. Many of these views accompany the written account of her trip, Polish Countrysides, published in 1937 by the AGS. Photographs from her 1931 and 1933 expeditions to Greenland, also published by the AGS in The Coast of Northeast Greenland and The Fiord Region of East Greenland, are including in the AGS Library’s holdings.

John E. Brush Collection – The John E. Brush Photo Collection contains 1,300 prints, 5 lantern slides, and over 1,300 35mm negatives. Raised in India, Brush returned to the United States after graduating from Woodstock School in Mussoorie, and earned a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Brush served on the faculty of Rutgers University Department of Geography for 35 years. Both his research and personal life brought him back to India multiple times, as evidenced by this collection of prints and negatives.

Theodoor de Booy Collection – The Theodoor Hendrik Nikolaas de Booy Collection contains two leather-bound albums with over 150 mounted and annotated prints from his 1918 Exploration of the of the Sierra de Perija, Venezuela. The first album is primarily photos along the journey, while the second album’s subjects are ethnographic and archaeological in content.

Harrison Forman Collection – The Harrison Forman Photo Collection contains over 3,800 prints and over 300 negatives. This is a fraction of the total Forman collection, sized at 98,000 images, most of which are in 35mm slide format. While the geographical coverage between the slides and photo collections is similar, the photo collection contains Forman’s early work including his Tibet imagery, the Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War, the Henan Famine, and the Blitzkrieg of Poland.

Elizabeth Margaret Kerr Collection – The Elizabeth Margaret Kerr Collection contains over 900 slides covering the years 1967-1977. The images are from personal travel throughout Europe, with emphasis on England and Ireland. All images are credited to Kerr. Additional photographs can be found in the UWM Libraries Archives Department in UWM Manuscript Collection 31.

Mary Murphy Collection – Mary Murphy donated her collection of approximately 14,600 travel slides to the AGS Library in 2007. Murphy, a retired librarian, spent her professional life of thirty-six years working in a variety of positions within the Army Map Service and later Army Topographic Command and the Defense Mapping Agency. After her retirement in 1980, Murphy became an author and speaker in the field of map librarianship and was the Editor of the Special Librarians Association (S.L.A.), Geography and Map Division, Bulletin for many years.

Murphy’s extensive collection covering over 40 years of travel, is a result of her worldwide travels as the S.L.A. representative to the Geography and Map Librarian section of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), Map Curators’ workshops, S.L.A., and ZONTA conferences.

Marshall H. Saville Collection – The Marshall Howard Saville Collection is composed of one leather-bound scrapbook with 185 mounted and annotated photos from his 1917 expedition to Guatemala and Honduras. Please read the Print Inventory Key to understand the PDF document.

M.H. Saville was a professor of American archaeology at Columbia University and later became the director of the Museum of the American Indian (Heye Foundation) in New York City.

Edna Schaus and Clarence Woodrow Sorensen Collection -

Clarence Woodrow Sorensen was an explorer, editor, and CBS staff foreign correspondent who traveled extensively capturing images of the life, work, and historical events of cultures worldwide. For his achievements he was appointed a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London. An internationally respected scholar, Sorensen was a prolific author of geography textbooks and became the sixth President of Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, in 1962.

During Sorenson’s extensive travels, Eugene V. Harris, a professional photographer, accompanied him taking thousands of the more than 64,000 beautiful Kodachrome slides that make up this collection.

The Edna Schaus and Clarence Woodrow Sorensen photo inventory comprises over 15,000 contact prints and 16,000 negatives. This inventory is kept separate from the more than 60,000 slides also in the Sorensen’s collection. Much of the slides geographical coverage overlaps that of the photo collection, both covering the years 1940-1970.

Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Collection - The bulk of this collection consists of family papers from Richard and Ethel Herzfeld. Also included are materials pertaining to Milwaukee’s Boston Store. The Boston Store materials include advertising, correspondence, items pertaining to a 1934-1935 strike, financial reports, newspaper clippings, lantern slides, stereographs, glass plate and nitrate negatives, and photographs. The family papers mainly consist of photographs and films of Richard and Ethel and their daughter Carol Ann, their homes, and travels. Correspondence, journals, family documents, and memorabilia are also included in the collection.

Bert Krawczyk Collection – Acquired in 1985,this collection consists of approximately 1,000 prints and negatives of China and India taken during World War II by Bert Krawczyk, a young photographer assigned to the China Air Task Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, from 1942 through 1945. The images depict military activities and the culture of the Chinese people during the 1940′s.

Harold Mayer Collection – Harold Mayer was a professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and one of the leading scholars in the field of urban geography in the Twentieth Century. He specialized in urban and transport geography of North America with a focus on New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, and British Columbia. During his academic career, Mayer created an extensive photographic collection that he used as an instructional tool in his teaching. In his photography, he documented the changes in urban landscape of North and Central America. He often returned to the same city to take a picture of the same sight over the course of several years. His collection, consisting of approximately 50,000 slides, was donated to the American Geographical Society Library by his wife, Florence Mayer.

Robert S. Platt, Professor of Geography at the University of Chicago, traveled and took photographs throughout the world. Acquired in 1982, this collection contains approximately 34,000 images spanning the period from 1919 to 1963. It is especially strong in its coverage of Central and South America.

George C. Roeming – A large collection of 35 mm slides taken by George C. Roeming in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States, spans the years 1958 through 1984.