Historical Photograph Collection, Student Photographers Series
Held at: Princeton University Library: University Archives [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: University Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
With the introduction of the Kodak box camera in 1888, many students began to take their own photographs. Princeton students were taking and possibly developing their own photographs on campus as early as the 1870s and early 1880s, perhaps in the darkrooms in the John C. Green School of Science.
The photographs in the Student Photographers Series comprise what must be a small proportion of the photographs taken by Princeton students in the late nineteenth century. The majority of photographs are candid shots of fellow students, campus events, and buildings, as well as some shots of the town of Princeton. While most of the candid photographs were taken outside, some were taken indoors. There are a number of photographs, for example, of students in their dormitory rooms. In addition to these candid shots, student photographers captured images of athletic events and various campus activities such as snowball fights and digging out the "Dinky" during the "Blizzard of 1888."
A definitive attribution of many of these images is extremely difficult. An individual's name can be found on the back of many of the images in the Student Photographers Series, thus allowing a tentative designation. It is difficult, however, to determine whether the named person is the photographer, the creator of the negative and print, or simply the owner of the print. It appears that Princeton students, some of whom were members of student-formed photography clubs, exchanged negatives with their fellow students or gave photographic prints as gifts. The four students to whom photographs in this collection can be linked (though not in a precise capacity) are: William Winfield Casselberry, Erskine Hewitt, Charles Fisk Howell, and Arthur Garfield Moses. Miss Margareta Paxton donated a group of four images in 1933. She could be related to Harmar Denny Paxton (1891) or William Miller Paxton Jr. (1889).
In addition, a number of duplicate images exist with the names of different individuals written on the back. For example, images numbered 045 and 076 are duplicate photographs of Edgar A. Poe (1891), though one print was made with the negative flipped. Poe posed for the photographer on the athletic field wearing street clothing and leaning on a cane. Image 045 was "presented by Miss Margareta Paxton, August 1933" and image 076 was "presented by Erskine Hewitt, September 16, 1925." There is no indication as to whom the images were presented. The images were presented eight years apart,. Similarly, images numbered 010 and 035 are duplicate images of two students posing in the E. M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology. One is attributed to Arthur Moses, the other to no one. Yet another example is a mass snowball fight for which there exist six images: one image is attributed to Arthur Moses, another to Erskine Hewitt, and the rest are unattributed.
Photographs of fellow students, alone and in groups, as well as campus and athletic activities are common in this collection. Baseball is especially well represented, with images of games held on the athletic fields and student-organized games played near Witherspoon Hall. Also present in the collection are images of football and cricket games. Other events represented by multiple images include mass snowball fights and the "Blizzard of 1888." The majority of candids involve groups of students. Individuals appearing in the photographs are generally identified; occasionally owners or creators gave captions to their images. When all the individuals in a group are from the same class, the note will say "Class of 1891." In cases where one individual is not from the class indicated for the group, that individual will have his class year indicated after his name.
These photographs, as part of the larger Historical Photograph Collection, are identified using the same keywords as the Grounds & Buildings Series and Campus Life Series. This was done to facilitate searches of the entire collection using the online database. Images in this series duplicate some of the individuals and subjects found in the other series as well as in the student photograph albums. Additionally, some photographers, such as Erskine Hewitt, created images found in other series of the HPC.
This is an unprocessed collection and remains in its original arrangement.
The photographs are organized by the individual, if known, to whom they are attributed.
This collection has been assembled through multiple accessions.
The contents of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library's Historical Photograph collections can be searched in the Historical Photograph Collection database.
This is an unprocessed collection. The contents list provided is a preliminary inventory.
Appraisal information was not recorded at time of accessioning.
- University Archives
- Finding Aid Date
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Collection is open for research use.
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