Introduction

Many of the DeGolyer Library items featured in Fossils to Film come from our prints and photographs collection. The prints and photographs division at SMU’s DeGolyer Library holds over one million images and is home to an extraordinary collection that is among the most important in Texas. Represented in their holdings are a broad range of artists and myriad photographic processes and formats, from the daguerreotype to gelatin silver prints, stereographs, albums, negatives, and film. Notable strengths of the collection illustrate the history of the American West, Mexico, and Texas, as well as developments in transportation technology (particularly railroads). However, such DeGolyer collections as those from mid-nineteenth century India and others from outside the U.S. have similarly drawn scholars worldwide to research and publish photography housed at the DeGolyer.


The photographs on display in Fossils to Film relate to the people and places of the American West, with examples of Edward S. Curtis’s (1868-1952) romantic portraits of Native Americans as well as John K. Hillers’s (German, 1843-1925) beautifully composed images of Native American settlements and Alfred Briquet’s (French, 1833-1926) views in Mexico. Other noteworthy photographic works on loan from the DeGolyer featured in this exhibition are daguerreotypes (the earliest photographic process, unique images made with an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor) and Alexander Gardner’s (Scottish, 1821-1882) now iconic images of President Abraham Lincoln. On display with other Alhambra artwork, are a series of Alhambra photographs, ca. 1880 by an unknown maker.