Experience William Henry Jackson’s 1871 Yellowstone exploration
A year before the declaration of America’s first national park, a geological survey led by Ferdinand Hayden headed west accompanied by the owner of Jackson Brothers Photographers in Omaha, Nebraska. William Henry Jackson, an avid artist from boyhood, eventually spent years accompanying Hayden’s explorations of the west. His collection of Yellowstone images in 1871 was especially beneficial, as it helped solidify the importance of protecting the nation’s wondrous landscapes.
Photographer and collection’s owner, Lee Silliman, spent seventeen years in the backcountry of Yellowstone where he delved into the history of photographing the park.
“Plans were in place to make the images accessible to America’s masses,” Silliman explained. “Using the German alberttype technique, prints were to be published in album form at a reasonable price in order to conjure up excitement and enthusiasm for the first national park.”
Before this could happen however, a fire overtook the photographic studio charged with the work, and most of the plates were destroyed. What remain are a few sets of the alberttypes from the printer’s proofs. Before the invention of Kodak roll film, mass production of prints was a laborious and somewhat expensive process. Jackson’s negatives were taken using the wet, collodion glass plate process, and on this excursion, he carried nearly 300 pounds of equipment into the rough terrain of what is now Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
A two-month-long temporary exhibit will include on rotation 61 alberttype photos. Four images were captured during a similar trek in 1872, while the rest depict the 1871 exploration. An original W.H. Jackson alberttype print will also be on display. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will be available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Posted on: Wednesday September 27, 2017 @ 10:58 AM