Photographic Prints from the U.S. Geological Explorations of the Fortieth Parallel and the U.S. Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian
Scope and Contents of the Collection
This majority of photographic prints in this collection were taken by Timothy H. O'Sullivan for the King Survey in 1867, 1868, 1869, 1872. William Bell worked in the summer of 1872 as a photographer on the Wheeler survey, replacing O'Sullivan as photographer. Neither set of prints is complete.
O'Sullivan worked in Washington DC for the government during the off season of the survey years and beyond, also as a private entrepreneur, creating prints of the photographs for use with report publications, as separate photograph sets, and for exhibitions.
More complete holdings of O'Sullivan photographs are held by the Library of Congress and in the National Archives.
- 1867 - 1872
- United States. Army. Corps of Engineers (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use note
The Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, under the direction of Clarence King, geologist in charge, appointed Timothy H. O'Sullivan as photographer. This survey explored the area between the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, including a focus on possible routes for the Pacific Railroad. O'Sullivan worked in the field from July through December, 1867; spent the winter of 1868 in Nevada, returned to the field from May to September 1868. In May 1869 he photographed in the field in Utah through Septmeber of 1869. O'Sullivan returned to the Geological Survey in March 1872, for a field season from April to November 1872.
The U.S. Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian under the direction of George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In September 1870 Timothy H. O'Sullivan was hired by Wheeler to join the survey the following spring as a photographer. Field work began in May and ended in December 1871. William Bell was hired for the summer of 1872 when O'Sullivan returned to work for the King Survey.
4 Cubic Feet (8 flat boxes)
Language of Materials
King survey prints are then arranged by expedition year, within each year in order by the plate #.
Wheeler survey prints are arranged by topical subseries, as listed on the prints themselves. Those are are Mining; Geological; Nevada; Arizona; and Colorado River, with each topical subseries by year of expedition.
Since different regions were covered in different expedition years, there is a de facto geographic gathering of items in both the King and Wheeler surverys.
Location of Originals
National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers also has original survey records including (RG 77.7): Photographs taken by Timothy O'Sullivan, staff photographer for the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel headed by Clarence King; (RG77.8) Prints, O'Sullivan and Bell, 1871-1874 Wheeler survey.
Location of Copies
- "Photographs from the High Rockies", Harper's New Monthly Magazine, volume 39, September 1869.
- Report of the geological exploration of the fortieth parallel : made by order of the Secretary of War according to the acts of Congress of March 2, 1867, and March 3, 1869 : under the direction of Brig. and Bvt. Major General A.A. Humphreys, Chief of Engineers, by Clarence King, U.S. Geologist. QE74.K5 1870Institute Archives and Special Collections has volumes: III. Mining industry / by James D. Hague ; with geological contributions by Clarence King (1870) -- IV. pt. I. Palaeontology / by F.B. Meek. pt. II. Palaeontology / by James Hall and R.P. Whitfield. pt. III. Ornithology / by Robert Ridgway (1877) -- V. Botany / by Sereno Watson ; aided by Prof. Daniel C. Eaton and others (1871) -- VI. Microscopical petrography / by Ferdinand Zirkel (1876) -- VII. Odonthornithes : a monograph on the extinct toothed birds of North America ... / by Othniel Charles Marsh (1880) .
- Report upon United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian: in charge of Capt. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army: under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army: published by authority of...the Secretary of War in accordance with Acts of Congress of June 23, 1874, and February 15, 1875: in seven volumes and one supplement, accompanied by one topographic and one geologic atlas. QE74.W6 1875-1889.Institute Archives and Special Collections has volumes:v. 1. Geographical report -- v. 3. Geology. Reports upon the geology of portions of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, examined in the years 1871, 1872, and 1873 / by G.K. Gilbert, A.R. Marvine, E.E. Howell, Jno. J. Stevenson, geological assistants ; Oscar Loew, mineralogical assistant -- v. 4. Palaeontology. Reports upon the invertebrate fossils collected in portions of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, by parties of the expeditions of 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1874, and, The extinct vertebratra obtained in New Mexico by parties of the expedition of 1874 / by Charles A. White, M.D., and Prof. E.D. Cope.
- Government in Science: The U.S. Geological Survey, 1867-1894, by Thomas Manning. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1967. MIT Libraries, QE76.M284.
- Great Surveys of the American West, by Richard Bartlett. Norman OK, 1962. MIT Libraries F594.B291
- American Frontiers: Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1867-1874, by Joel Synder. Millerton, NY: Aperture Press, 1981. MIT Libraries, Rotch F594.S67
- Wheeler's photographic survey of the American West, 1871-1873 by George M. Wheeler ; with 50 landscape photographs by Timothy O'Sullivan and William Bell. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1983.
- One/Many: Western American Survey Photographs, by Joel Synder. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2006. MIT Libraries, Rotch TR661.S692.
- Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan / Toby Jurovics, Carol M. Johnson, Glenn Willumson, and William F. Stapp. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
Physical Facet note
The mount of each print from the King Survey has the printed text: Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parrallel, Clarence King, Geologist in Charge, Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel; T.H. O'Sullivan Phot. plus a seal surrounded by the text: War Department. Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army.
The mount of each print from the Wheeler Suvery has a printed title and the printed text: War Department - Explorations in Nevada and Arizona - Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler, Comd'g. Each mount also carries the text "Expedition of 1871" or "Expedition of 1872". Each mount also carries a credit for the photographer, either T. H. O'Sullivan or W. Bell.
Each print has been stamped on the back by the MIT Libraries " MIT Library, Humanities April 1973"
Processing Information note
- Albumen prints Subject Source: Thesaurus For Graphic Materials (Tgm)
- Expedition photographs Subject Source: Thesaurus For Graphic Materials (Tgm)
- Geographical Surveys West of the 100th Meridian (U.S.)
- Landscape photographs Subject Source: Thesaurus For Graphic Materials (Tgm)
- United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel
- Photographic Prints from the U.S. Geological Explorations of the Fortieth Parallel and the U.S.Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
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