From Points West magazine
Originally published in Summer 2001
By Nathan Bender
Former Curator, McCracken Research Library
Yellowstone National Park is a magnet for photographers. Early photographers shot and sold many views of the landscapes, geysers, hot springs and wildlife. Tourists using new photographic technology that allowed “snapshots” took full advantage of both the portable roll-film cameras and the views. The McCracken Research Library has numerous Yellowstone Park images, created by both professionals and tourists.
Perhaps the one photographer most closely associated with the park was Jack E. Haynes (1884 – 1962), son of Yellowstone pioneer photographer F. Jay Haynes. Jack continued the family tradition in the Park by not only becoming an expert photographer and concessionaire, but one of the most knowledgeable Yellowstone local historians as well. His images of Yellowstone shot with new films and cameras kept the Haynes Studios in the postcard and picture business through the first half of the twentieth century.
Local Cody photographer F.J. Hiscock (1873 – 1951) is represented in our collections with some early views of the town and its people after his arrival in 1904. His recording of the early growth of the town is essential for local area research.
Taking up where Hiscock began are Cody photographers Jack Richard (1903 – 1992) and Stanley Kershaw (1891 – 1963). The Jack Richard Collection of the McCracken Research Library is the near-complete studio collection of his images, records, and even much of his equipment. During the twentieth century, Richard not only took family portraits, but also was active in Yellowstone National Park, involved with the Cody newspaper business, and was on hand to photograph the excavation of Mummy Cave for the Buffalo Bill [Center of the West] project of the 1960s. Stan Kershaw was active at the same time as Jack Richard, and his views of dude ranching at Larry Larom’s Valley Ranch are notable within our holdings.
Charles J. Belden (1887 – 1966) of the Pitchfork Ranch in Meeteetse, Wyoming, is one of the great cowboy photographers of the twentieth century. His work is reminiscent of earlier photographers such as L.A. Huffman in that his passions were for illustrating the ranching life, and he also worked for wildlife conservation. His artistic abilities were considerable, as is evident in the composition and lighting of his images. The McCracken Research Library holds his personal papers, negatives, and prints in one of our major photographic collections.
Documentary Research Collections
Other photographs within the holdings of the McCracken Research Library were created for different purposes. For example, the studio collections of artist Frank Tenney Johnson (1874 – 1939) contain much photographic documentation of his paintings, and images of the artist at work. Other artists, such as Winold Reiss, also had publicity shots of their studios.
Photographs in our library that relate to the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. include not only controlled studio images of their firearms, but also a few publicity shots with celebrities and some that show state-of-the-art industrial manufacturing ca. 1912. Saddle making and leather craftsmanship of the same time period can be shown within our collections by photographs in the Victor Alexander Collection. The art and craft of gun engraving is documented by the photomicrographic studies of Dr. Frederic Harris, which slides detail stylistic techniques of particular engravers.
Dr. William G. Pierce was a geologist who spent much time researching the Heart Mountain Fault of the Big Horn Basin and Beartooth/Absaroka Mountains of Park County, Wyoming. His papers include hundreds of 35 mm slides showing the geologic strata and formations of this area.