William Henry Jackson Early Portrait - 1860s
Portrait of WH Jackson by FP Clatworthy
William Henry Jackson’s camera
Photo of W.H.Jackson in later years
William Henry Jackson (April 4, 1843 - June 30, 1942) is best known as the first person to photograph the wonders of Yellowstone. His images adorned the parlors of millions of American households and aided in the effort to create the world's first national park. Jackson was also an accomplished artist who recorded his experiences as a young man. His drawings and paintings provide valuable insights to life in a time when America was suffering through the Civil War and venturing westward in search of a national identity.
Growing up in Keeseville, New York, Jackson could not recall a time when he was not drawing pictures. His mother was an accomplished painter of watercolors, and he credited her encouragement with his later success. At the age of 10, Jackson received his first formal artistic training, learning to use perspective and form, color and composition. His drawings now began to take on a more realistic and mature appearance.
His first job as an artist was not a glamorous one. In 1858, he was hired as a retoucher for a photographic studio in Troy, New York, where he worked for two years. His job was to warm up black and white portraits by tinting them with watercolors and to enhance details in the photographs with India ink. During this time, he learned how to use cameras and the darkroom techniques of the time.
William Henry Jackson was a great-great nephew of Samuel Wilson, the progenitor of America's national symbol Uncle Sam. After his boyhood in Troy, New York and Rutland, Vermont, in October 1862 Jackson at the age of 19 joined as a private in Company K of 12th Vermont Infantry of the Union Army. Jackson spent much of his free time sketching drawings of his friends and various scenes of Army camp life that he sent home to his family as his way of letting them know he was safe. Later he fought in the American Civil War for nine months, including (only) one major battle, the battle of Gettysburg, but Jackson spent most of his tour on garrison duty and was guarding a supply train during the engagement. His regiment mustered out 14 July 1863. Jackson then returned to Rutland, VT, where he eventually got into creative crisis as a painter in post-Civil-War American society. Having broken his engagement to Miss Carolina Eastman he left Vermont forever, for the American West.
In 1866 Jackson boarded a Union Pacific railroad and traveled until it reached the end of the line at that time, about one hundred miles west of Omaha, Nebraska, where he then joined a wagon train heading west to Great Salt Lake as a Bullwhacker, on the Oregon Trail. In 1867 along with his brother Edward Jackson he settled down in Omaha, NE and got into the photography business. On ventures that often lasted for several days, Jackson acted as a "missionary to the Indians" around the Omaha region and it was there that Jackson made his now famous photographs of the American Indians: Osages, Otoes, Pawnees, Winnebagoes and Omahas(WIKIPEDIA)
William Henry Jackson is known as America’s pioneer photographer. He published tens of thousands of prints of his work and that of other photographers, wrote extensively, painted and sketched, and built two of the most successful photographic view companies in the history of photography, his studio in Denver and later the Detroit Photographic Publishing Company. Best known for his dramatic and descriptive nineteenth-century Western-landscape photographs he worked in formats ranging from cdvs to gigantic single print multi-mammoth plate panoramic up to 92 inches wide.
Throughout his life Jackson found he preferred outdoor work. In Omaha he continued photographing the Pawnee and Omaha Indians in the vicinity. By 1869 he was traveling with A.C. Hull westward along the Union Pacific Railroad from Omaha, photographing towns, settlers, railroad workers, and some landscapes and received an order for 10,000 views from Edward Anthony of New York.
Studio portrait of delegate Coho
(Nuqnikus, Lame Man)
(Nuqnikus, Lame Man)
Chief Ouray, Ute Chieftain, and his sub-chiefs
Peoples of Utah Photograph Collection
George Manhart's store
Early town of Round Corral (later called Sedalia.)
The Twenty Mile house
Camp along Medicine Bow River
The Union Pacific reached Medicine Bow in 1868, when the town consisted of little more than a store and saloon. Jackson in 1869 followed the Railroad from town to town across the Territory. Thus, he had visited the area before his joining of the Hayden expedition pictured above.
Tower Falls, Yellowstone National Park
Jackson's artistic growth as a landscape photographer germinated with the 1869 work and quickly matured when he was hired by Ferdinand V. Hayden as the official photographer for the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. Influenced by Thomas Moran, a painter on the survey, and photographers C. R. Savage and A. J. Russell, Jackson absorbed the aesthetic of romantic engagement of the western landscape and development and colonization of the Territories. However, this was countered by the inherent drama of being the first to photograph many high mountain peaks, valleys and western scenes in a more descriptive and topographic style.
He and Hayden published portfolios to be sold and given away during this time, including albums on Yellowstone, the four corners area of the American Southwest and of American Indians.
Family encamped near the head of Medicine Lodge Creek
Clark County, Idaho, June 11, 1871
US Geographical and Geological Survey of 1871
Grand Canyon of the Colorado 1880
Lake Worth Railroad, Florida,1896
Henry Gannett album
George Eastman House
Still Photograph Archive
William Henry Jackson worked in multiple camera and plate sizes, under conditions that were often incredibly difficult. His photography was based on the collodion process invented in 1848 and published in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer. William Henry Jackson traveled with as many as three camera-types-- a stereographic camera (for stereoscope cards), a "whole-plate" or 8x10" plate-size camera, and one even larger, as large as 18x22". These cameras required fragile, heavy glass plates (photographic plates) which had to be coated, exposed, and developed onsite, before the wet-collodion emulsion dried. Without light metering equipment or sure emulsion speeds, exposure times required inspired guesswork, between five seconds and twenty minutes depending on light conditions.
Preparing, exposing, developing, fixing, washing then drying a single image could take the better part of an hour. Washing the plates in 160 °F hot spring water cut the drying time by more than half, while using water from snow melted and warmed in his hands slowed down the processing substantially. His photographic division of 5-7 men carried photographic equipment on the backs of mules and rifles on their shoulders - Siouxess still made scalping - William Henry Jackson's life experience (as military, as peaceful dealing with Indians) was welcomed. The weight of the glass plates and the portable darkroom limited the number of possible exposures on any one trip, and these images were taken in primitive, roadless, and physically challenging conditions. Once when the mule lost its footing, William Henry Jackson lost a month's work, having to return to untracked Rocky Mountain landscapes to remake the pictures.
(William Henry Jackson Biography by leegallery.com)
The entrance to the Big Thompson Canyon
The photographs and art work, which comprise the bulk of the William Henry Jackson collection in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, include 1,082 individual items, of which 1,079 can be found in this digital collection. There is an astonishing range of subjects and media, and a significant number of images from every phase of his long and prolific career. Approximately 1,000 of the photographs are attributed to Jackson, with three photographs clearly those of his son, Clarence S. Jackson.(WIKIPEDIA)
A Tea Planter, Gampola, Ceylon
Mountain Road near Haputale, Ceylon, 1894
Oxen and man pulling thatched wagons
World Transportation Commission
An old water-wheel in the suburbs of Tunis
Published as halftone in Harper''s Weekly, 1895
Geographically the collection is dominated by scenery of the western United States and Mexico, but also includes 231 images from all of the Asian and Pacific countries, except Korea, visited from 1894-1896, as a part of the World Transportation Commission travels. Because of his lengthy stay in Colorado, the over 190 Colorado images form the largest single group of western photographs. The over 90 images of Mexico form the next largest group of photographs. Native American portraiture, with approximately 60 images, Yellowstone, 56 images, and Utah, 21 images, also form important portions of the collection. The approximately 30 pieces of art, in various media, are western in their focus.
(HAROLD B. LEE LIBRARY at lib.byu.ed)
Jackson moved to Washington, D.C. in 1924, and produced murals of the Old West for the new U.S. Department of the Interior building. He also acted as a technical advisor for the filming of Gone with the Wind.
In 1942, Jackson died at the age of 99 in New York City. He was honored by the Explorer's Club for his 80,000 photographs of the American West. The SS William H Jackson steamship was in active service in 1945. Recognized as one of the last surviving Civil War veterans, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Mount Jackson el. 8,231 feet (2,509 m) just north of the Madison River, in the Gallatin Range of Yellowstone National Park is named in honor of Jackson.