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
Cut No. 4, West of Dale Creek Bridge
circa 1868

No 32 Cut No 4 west of Dale Creek Bridge, (Scratched on negative)

Reed's Rock, Sherman Summit of U.P.R.R.
circa 1868

17 Reed's Rock Sherman Summit of U.P.R.R. (Scratched on negative)"Reed's Rock was presumably named after Samuel Reed, Union Pacific Surveyor. It was dismantled in 1882, cut into blocks, and used...

Commisioners at Fort Sanders
circa 1868

No 38 Commissioners at Fort Sanders (Scratched on Negative).

California  U.P.R.R. Stable or Corral, Salt Lake City
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 169 California U.P.R.R. Stable or Correll (sic) Salt Lake City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass...

Salt Lake City No. 3, Panoramic View
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: Image Description: (163) Salt Lake City, No 3, Panoramic View Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13 ". Sub. Cat.: Transportation --...

Sentinel Rock, Weber Valley
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: No 182 Sentinel Rock Weber Valley (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Buildings in front of rock. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass...

City Creek Canyon
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: No 157 City Creek Cannon The Water used by Citizens of Salt Lake City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. See also 69.459.1971. Physical Description...

Brigham's Bath House, Hot Sulphur Springs, Salt Lake City
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: No 156 Brigham's Bath House Hot Sulphur Springs Salt Lake City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion...

Mountains of Green River Valley
circa 1868

77 No Mountains of Green River Valley (Scratched on negative).

Employees of U.P.R.R. at Laramie City
circa 1868

No 49 Employees of U.P.R.R. at Laramie City (Scratched on negative).

Construction Train at End of Track, General Casement's Outfit, General in Foreground
circa 1868

59 No Construction Train at End of Track Gen Casement's Outfit Gen in Foreground (Scratched on negative)."Russell's wagon with darkroom box on back (right side). Corner of dark cloth pulled back...

Dale Creek Bridge from Above, No. 2
circa 1868

24 Dale Creek Bridge from Above No 2 (Scratched on negative). Snow in gulch below bridge.

The Old Saw Mill, Parley's Park
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 146 The Old Saw Mill Parleys Park (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13". Sub. Cat...

Group of Officials
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 161 No 2 Group of Officials (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Group posing in front of corral. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass...

Pony Engine
circa 1868

Pony Engine. Engine number 3 of the Union Pacific Railroad with three men in and near the cab and one man in front.

Snow and Timber Line, Uinta Mountains
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 90 Snow and Timber Line Uintah Mountains (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13"....

Cashier's Office, Echo City
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 127 Cashier's Office Echo City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Men posing outside building. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass...

Bromley's Residence, Echo City
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 126 Bromley's Residence Echo City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13". Sub. Cat...

Looking Down Temple Street, Salt Lake
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 168 Looking Down Temple Street Salt Lake (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13 "....

Interior of Dining Room at Laramie, No. 1
circa 1868

(48b) Interior of Dining Room at Laramie No 1. Tables set.

Ripple Lake, White Pine Canyon, Parley's Park
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 147 Ripple Lake White Pine Cannon Parleys Park (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. See also 69.459.1963. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate"...

Front View of Laramie Shops
circa 1868

No 42 Front View of Laramie Shops.

Group at O.C. Smith, Echo City
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: 237 Group at O.C. Smith Echo City (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13 ". Sub...

Bishop Snyder's Residence, Parley's Park, Utah
circa 1868

Photograph. Title: No 152 Bishop Snyder's Residence Parleys Park Utah (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Family on porch. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate"...

© 2019 Oakland Museum of California