Andrew J. Russell

Andrew Joseph Russell (1830 – 1902)

One of a handful of landscape photographers who shaped our perception of the American West in the 19th century, A. J. Russell’s work stands alongside of Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge and Timothy O’Sullivan in its aesthetic power and technical virtuosity. A large group of Russell’s original glass-plate negatives are preserved in the Collection of the Oakland Museum of California.

A painter as well as photographer, Russell worked for Matthew Brady before documenting the U.S. Military Railroad as a captain during the Civil War. After the war, he secured a position as official photographer for the Union Pacific Railroad in its massive endeavor to construct a transcontinental railroad. His photographs, culminating in the iconic “Joining of the Rails” at Promontory, Utah, capture the majestic scale of western lands, the gritty enterprise of railroad building, frontier boom towns, and the effect of railroads on Native Americans.

Russell’s photographs brought the railroad, and the American West, to a mass audience. Disseminated internationally as stereo views and engravings in newspapers, and filtered through Hollywood films and even advertising, Russell’s visual style continues to influence our image of western history and mythology.

In 1969 the Oakland Museum acquired nearly 650 collodion “wet plate” negatives in both stereo and “imperial” (10 X 13 inch) formats. The original glass camera negatives were made in the field by Russell himself, making the collection unique, among major 19th century landscape photographers. The Museum also holds one of the few surviving copies of The Great West Illustrated, an album of vintage albumen prints by Russell, as well as mounted stereo views and more than 100 glass lantern slides.

Russell’s photographs illuminate powerful themes in American history: westward expansion and Manifest Destiny, the displacement of native peoples, attitudes toward landscape and the natural environment, technological history (both engineering and photographic), and the important role of art and photography in shaping and expressing cultural concerns.

For the first time, high-resolution digital scans of the original glass-plate negatives are now available for online viewing. These scans are highly detailed and rich in searchable content.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. National Endowment for the Arts

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Saw Mill, Bingham Canyon Gold Mines
1869

Photograph. Title: Saw Mill Bingham Canon Gold Mines Image Description: (s489) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation --...

Round House, Cheyenne
1869

Photograph. Title: 68 Round House Cheyenne (Scratched on negative) Image Description: (s68) See title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative, 5"X8". Sub....

Witches Jug, Witches Group
1869

Photograph. Title: Witches Jug, Witches Group Image Description: (s328) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads...

Mrs. S.B. Reed, Echo
1869

Photograph. Title: Mrs. S.B. Reed Echo Image Description: (s610) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads.

Weber River at Echo City
1869

Photograph. Title: Weber River at Echo City Image Description: (s351a) see Title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads...

Perspective View of Combination Bridge, Devil's Gate
1869

Photograph. Title: Perspective view of Combination Bridge Devil's Gate Image Description: (s408) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.:...

Looking down Echo Canyon, From Death's Rock
1869

Photograph. Title: Looking down Echo Canon from Death's Rock. Image Description: (s300) see Title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.:...

Colfax and Party at Echo
1869

Original cataloging:Photograph. Title: Colfax and Party at Echo Image Description: (s315) see Title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.:...

Bird's Eye View of Weber
1869

Photograph. Title: Bird's eye view of Weber Image Description: (s433) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads.

Strawberry Ford, Weber
1869

Photograph. Title: No 196 Strawberry Ford Weber (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. See also 69.459.2056. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative...

Echo Canyon from Temple Rock, Looking East
1869

Photograph. Title: Echo Canon from Temple Rock looking East Image Description: (s276) see Title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation...

Miss Anna Reed on Horseback, Echo City
1869

Photograph. Title: Miss Ann Reed on Horseback Echo City Image Description: (s612) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation --...

Granger Station
1869

Photograph. Title: 200 Granger Station. Image Description: (s200) See title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads....

Cozzens Hotel and Catholic Church, Omaha
1869

Photograph. Title: 2 Cozzens Hotel & Catholic Church Omaha (Scratched on negative) Image Description: (s2) See title. Snow on road. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate...

Bromley's House, Echo
1869

Photograph. Title: Bromley House, Echo Image Description: (s344) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads....

Tea Pot Rock, Distant View, Green River
1869

Photograph. Title: 188 Tea Pot Rock Distant View Green River (scratched on negative) Image Description: (s188) See title. See also 69.459.2166. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion...

Rocky Mountain Bouquet
1869

Photograph. Title: Rocky Mountain Boquet (sic) Image Description: (s314) see Title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads...

Front Street, North Platte
1869

Photograph. Title: 54 Front Street North Platte (Scratched on negative) Image Description: (s54) See title. Commercial buildings. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate...

Townsend House, Salt Lake City
1869

Photograph. Title: 160 No Townsend House Salt Lake City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13 ". Sub...

Looking up Weber Canyon from Finger Rock, Weber
1869

Photograph. Title: Looking up Weber Canon from Finger Rock Weber Image Description: (s390) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.:...

Steam Shovel Filling, Echo Canyon
1869

Photograph. Title: Steam Shovel Filling, Echo Canon Image Description: (s290) see Title. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation --...

Machine Shops, Omaha, Looking West
1869

Photograph. Title: 28 Machine Shops Omaha Looking West (Scratched on negative) Image Description: (s28) See title. Five men beside building. Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass...

Conglomerate Peaks of Echo
1869

Photograph. Title: Conglomerate Peaks of Echo Image Description: (s330) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads...

Weber Valley from Witches Finger
1869

Photograph. Title: Weber Valley from Witches Finger Image Description: (s329) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation --...

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