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Carleton E. Watkins photographs

 Collection — Photo Box: 1
Identifier: PH 200_011

Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of 27 black and white gelatin silver stereo images of Oregon and California and includes some work from the Columbia Gorge. Location of photos include San Fransisco, Oregon City, Columbia River, Monterey, Dallas City, Oakland, Merced, Santa Cruz, Carson City, Sand Luis Obispo. Subjects include Castle Rock, Alcatraz Island, cityscapes, landscapes, portriats and architecture.


  • 1867-1890


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916) was a landscape and view photographer based in San Francisco. Watkins was born in Oneonta, New York on November 11, 1829, the eldest of eight children. Watkins traveled to California seeking opportunities provided by the gold rush. He worked in California delivering supplies to mining operations. After the Sacramento city fire in 1852 Watkins set out to be a professional photographer. He was employed by several established photographers between 1852 and 1854, including Robert Vance. Watkins began working on his own, doing commissions for publishers and individuals starting in 1858. He established his reputation as a landscape photographer with his work photographing Yosemite with 18 x 22 inch glass plates and a stereoscopic camera. Watkins won a number of awards during his career including the 1865 award for Mountain Views at the Mechanics' Institute Exhibition in San Francisco and the 1867 medal for landscape photographs at the Paris International Exposition. Watkins began copyrighting his work in 1867. In 1867 Watkins traveled to Oregon photographing Portland and the Columbia River. Watkins also photographed Northern California, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Utah during his career. In 1871 Watkins lost his studio and negatives to creditors. He began rebuilding his collection by revisiting sites he had previously photographed and began releasing them as the Watkins New Series. Subjects of the Watkins New Series include the Central Pacific Railroad, Sierra Nevada mining, Lake Tahoe, Big Trees, Virginia City, southern California, Arizona, the Pacific Northwest, Yellowstone, and extensive coverage of San Francisco and the Bay Area. In 1879 Watkins married Frances Sneade. The earthquake of 1906 destroyed Watkins studio along with the negatives of his life's work. Watkins died on June 23, 1916 at the age of eighty-seven.

“Carleton Watkins.” The Photographs of Carleton Watkins. Last updated 2003.


0.25 linear feet (1 container) : 1 photo print box

Language of Materials



Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916) was a landscape and view photographer based in San Francisco, who made trips to Oregon in 1867 and in the 1880s. The collection consists of 27 black and white stereo images of Oregon and California and includes some work from the Columbia Gorge.

Related Archival Materials note

These images were originally part of the Print Collection.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Normandy S. Helmer. Revised by Emily Haskins.

Guide to the Carleton E. Watkins photographs
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Normandy Helmer. Revised by Emily Haskins.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA