A significant part of the AGS Library is an extensive photographic collection, currently including more than 700,000 images in a variety of formats. Initially, 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. Since its arrival in Milwaukee in 1978, the AGS Library has received more than 40 additional distinct collections. The Library continues to receive additions to the collection.
Some of the larger collections include:
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 stereoscopic slides 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.
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. Many images from these collections can be found online in the AGSL Digital Collections.
Robert S. Platt Collection
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.