Irreplaceable Historic Photography
The American Geographical Society (AGS) was formed in the early 1850s to promote the collection of geographical information and to establish and maintain a library with a collection of maps, charts, photographs and instruments. The photography collection is the product of world renowned explorers and geographers who were members of the AGS of New York.
In 2010, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) generously awarded the AGS Library a preservation grant to save 70,920 nitrate negatives: Saving and Sharing the AGS Library's Historic Nitrate Negative Images. Cellulose nitrate film, a volatile and flammable material, was an important innovation in the field of amateur photography and was popular for well over half a century after its introduction in 1889. Many historic negatives housed in the AGS Library in this format were deteriorating and in need of immediate attention.
In 2012, the AGS Library was again awarded a grant to save, preserve, and make accessible online, safety film negatives of approximately 35,000 still images from the Harrison Forman and Clarence W. Sorensen collections: Saving and Sharing the AGS Library's Historic Film Collections II – Monochrome Acetate Negatives and Motion Picture Film. The project includes digitizing and making available online, approximately 25,000 feet of unique and historic motion picture films in 16mm and 35mm formats from the Harrison Forman, Clarence W. Sorensen, Walter Wood, and William O. Field collections.
These photographers' collections document a global range of peoples, cultures, built environments, landscapes and natural resources that will culminate in a collection of over 50,000 images available online.
Isaiah Bowman (1878-1950) was the Director of the American Geographical Society from 1915 to 1935, the leader of Woodrow Wilson's post-WWI think tank, the "Inquiry", and later, the president of Johns Hopkins University. View more
Frederick G. Clapp
Frederick Gardner Clapp (1879-1944) was a pioneer petroleum geologist who worked predominantly as a consulting geologist specializing in oil and gas. View more
Theodoor deBooy (1882-1919) was a noted archaeologist and geographical researcher who explored the unknown region of the Perija Mountains in eastern Venezuela. View more
Helmut de Terra
Helmut de Terra (1900-1981) was a geologist, explorer, archaeologist, and anthropologist. View more
William O. Field
William O. Field (1904-1994) was a geographer and pioneer glaciologist and is widely recognized as the "father of glaciology". View more
Alfred T. Flint
Alfred T. Flint (1891-1954) was a lawyer in Wisconsin and an adventurer with an interest in nature, history, and archaeology. View more
Alexander Forbes was a leader in photogrammetry for the United States Navy. In his work for the U.S. government, Forbes engaged in mapping Labrador, Northern Quebec, and Frobisher Bay of Baffin Island. View more
Harrison Forman (1904-1978), a native of Milwaukee, was an adventurous photojournalist and explorer often called the "Modern Marco Polo". View more
Bert Krawczyk (1922-1998) was a young photographer and artist who was stationed in India and then assigned to the Hunan (Yunnan) Province of China in 1942 through 1945, during World War II. Many of his photographs portray rural life, and are particularly valuable due to the detailed annotations he made regarding the people and culture of the region. View more
Mary Meader (1916-2008) was an adventurous aerial photographer who flew with Dr. Richard Upjohn Light (a geographer and pilot, and her husband at the time) over the continents of South America and Africa. Some of the first aerial photographs of the pyramids in Egypt are present in this collection. View more
Robert L. Pendleton
Robert Larimore Pendleton (1890-1957) was pioneer in soil science of the tropics. He traveled to many tropical areas of the world but settled in Thailand for most of his life. His photos provide insights into the societies, built environments, and agriculture of the places he visited and lived. View more
Robert S. Platt
Robert S. Platt was a prominent geographer from the University of Chicago who traveled and took photographs of people and places throughout the world. Platt was noted for his research of the regional relationships between people and land in Latin America, which led to a new way of looking at humans' organization of space. View more
Mary Jo Read
Mary Jo Read (1911-1998) was the first woman to be granted her Ph.D. in Geography from UW-Madison in 1942. She taught at UW-Milwaukee from 1940 to 1965, serving as the chair from 1958-1963. This collection represents her travels to China with her family when she was young. View more