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

View results as Grid View results as List Browse Full Collection Advanced Search
The Old Trapper at the Head of Bear River
1869

Photograph. Title: 96 The Old Trapper at the Head of Bear River (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13...

From Devil's Gate, Looking up the Weber
1869

Photograph. Title: From Devil's gate looking up the Weber Image Description: (s406) see Title Physical Description: Stereographic collodion glass plate negative. Sub. Cat.: Transportation...

Senator Patterson and Party on Devil's Gate Bridge
1869

Photograph. Title: No 209 Senator Patterson and Pary on Devil's Gate Bridge (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. See also 69.459.2017. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate...

Young Cinnamon Bear, Laramie
1869

Photograph. Title: 139 Young Cinamon (sic) Bear Larame (sic) (scratched on negative) Image Description: (s139) See title. Man holding bear, standing on snow covered ground. Physical...

Officers of Union Pacific Rail Road at Ceremony of Laying Last Rail at Promontory
May 1869

Photograph. Title: 226 Officers of U.P. Rail Road at Ceremony of Laying Last Rail at Promontory (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate"...

Odd Fellows Holding Service, Echo Canyon
October 1869

"Odd fellows in Echo Canyon."#303. Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."Stereograph of same scene: 303. Odd Fellows holding service Echo Canyon" title per Glenn Willumson. "...

Engineers of U.P.R.R. at the Laying of the Last Rail, Promontory
May 1869

Photograph. Title: 224 Engineers of U.P.R.R. at the laying Of the Last Rail Promontory (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Number 151 is also scratched on negative....

Odd Fellows Meeting, Echo Canyon near Temple Rock, No. 2
October 1869

Photograph. Title: 112 Odd Fellows Meeting Echo Cannon Near Temple Rock No 2 (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. See also 69.459.1937 Physical Description: "Imperial...

Grand Lodge of the Odd Fellows, Holding Meeting, Echo Canyon
October 1869

Photograph. Title: Image Description: No 111 Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows holding meeting, Echo Canon. See also 69.459.1938 Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"...

Laying Last Rail, Promontory
May 1869

Photograph. Title: 225 Laying Last Rail Promontory (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13 ". Sub. Cat...

Shadow Lake From South East
circa 1869

"Shadow Lake from S.E. #235". Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."235. Shadow Lake from South East" title per Glenn Willumson for the NEA Russell Grant, July 2103 - June...

Engine on Great Trestle
circa 1869

Sedgwick #531. Does not correspond to Russell neg. #531. Shows engine on Dale Creek Bridge, distant view. Across the Continent. 1. Omaha to Green R. - In wood file cabinet. In this next section, I...

Sick Squaw and Medicine Man
circa 1869

"Sedgwick #581" sick squaw and medicine man. Old number Russell negative number. See donor file."Sick Squaw and Medicine Man" title per Glenn Willumson for NEA Russell Grant, July 2013 - June 2015...

Hydraulic Gold Mining
circa 1869

"#555 Hydrolic [sic] Gold Mining." Old number Russell negative number. See donor file.Titles derived from the lists on the verso of Russell stereographs published after his return to New York in...

Devil's Shoot, Perspective
circa 1869

"Sedgwick" #396 Devil's shoot. Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."Devil's Shoot, Perspective" title per Glenn Willumson for the NEA Russell Grant, July 2013 - June 2015....

Front of Laramie Hotel
circa 1869

"#130 Front of Hotel, Laramie." Old Number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."Front of Laramie Hotel" title per Glenn Willumson for the NEA Russell Grant, July 2013 - June 2015....

Dale Creek Bridge from Granite Bluffs
circa 1869

From Druid's rock. Doesn't correspond to Russell photo of the same title. Shows distant view of D.C. bridge. Across the Continent. 1. Omaha to Green R. - In wood file cabinet. In this next section...

Dale Creek Bridge from Below
circa 1869

Dale Creek Bridge, view from below. Across the Continent. 1. Omaha to Green R. - In wood file cabinet. In this next section, I have grouped the slides, photographer unknown, according to Sedgwick'...

Pulpit Rock, Mouth of Echo Canyon
circa 1869

"Sedgwick #332" Pulpit Rock looking west. Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."Pulpit Rock Mouth of Echo Canon" title per Glenn Willumson for the NEA Russell Grant, July 2013...

R.R. Hotel, Laramie
circa 1869

"Sedgwick #135 R.R.H. Laramie" Hotel in Laramie. Old Number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."135. R.R. Hotel, Laramie" title per Glenn Willumson for the NEA Russell Grant, July 2013...

Hydraulic Gold Mining, Gold Fields
circa 1869

"#554 Hydrolic Gold Mining - Gold Fields." Old number Russell negative number. See donor file."Hydraulic Gold Mining, Gold Fields" title from verso of Russell stereograph per Glenn Willumson for...

Shadow Lake, from the East
circa 1869

"Sedgwick #239 Shadow Lake from east." Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file."Shadow Lake from the East" title per Glenn Willumson for the NEA Russell Grant, July 2013 - June...

Slaughterhouse at Camp, Blue Creek
circa 1869

"514" Slaughterhouse at camp, Blue Creek. Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file.Titles derived from the lists on the verso of Russell stereographs published after his return to...

Shadow Lake, North East
circa 1869

"Sedgwick 237 Shadow Lake N.E." Old number may be Russell negative number. See donor file.Titles derived from the lists on the verso of Russell stereographs published after his return to New York...

© 2019 Oakland Museum of California