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University Historic Photograph Collection

 Collection
Identifier: UHPC

Scope and Contents

The University Historic Photograph Collection consists of over 400,000 photographic materials dated from the 1883 to 2001. It is the visual history of Colorado State University, documenting academics, student activities and organizations, athletics, the campus and its buildings, faculty research, Cooperative Extension, the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, and scenes of Fort Collins and the surrounding area. The collection also represents a timeline of the history of photography as it contains glass plate negatives, magic lantern slides, cabinet cards, cyanotypes, silver gelatin prints, acetate negatives, color negatives, 35mm rolled film, 35mm color slides, and digital images.

Dates

  • 1883-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1920s-1980s

Creator

Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, it is stored offsite, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.

History

The University Historic Photograph Collection consists of photographs taken by the official campus photographers of Colorado State University from the earliest days of the land grant college through the large public university era. Originally known as the Campus Photo Shop, the department has experienced organizational and name changes over the years. For many years, the campus photographers worked in the Office of Instructional Services. During a reorganization in 2006, the OIS was disbanded and the photographers joined Communication and Creative Services. During that move, the historic prints and negatives were donated to the archives department.

The Morrill Act of 1862, granted federal land to states to build colleges that would provide practical and scientific instruction in agriculture and mechanic arts. On February 11, 1870, Colorado's territorial government authorized the founding of Colorado Agricultural College under the provisions of the Morrill Act. In 1877, a governing board for the College was organized, known as the State Board of Agriculture, currently known as the Board of Governors. The first campus building was erected in 1878, and classes began in 1879. Early course offerings focused on agriculture and disciplines that supported agriculture, such as civil and irrigation engineering and entomology. Female students were offered a course of study in domestic science.

The College continued to grow over the years, expanding programs of study and course offerings. The campus also experienced name changes that reflected the widening breadth of academic offerings. In 1935 the school changed its name to the Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, signaling that other courses of study were available to students than just agriculture. In 1957, the College was renamed again to Colorado State University, indicating its transformation to a full-fledge University with a wide variety of courses and graduate-level educational offerings.

Extent

234.5 linear feet (204 record cartons and 12 file cabinets)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The University Historic Photograph Collection is the visual history of Colorado State University from the 1880s to 2001. It documents various aspects of campus life, including academics, athletics, student activities, faculty research, Cooperative Extension, and the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. Materials dated from the 1880s to the 1950s are processed. Some materials from the 1960s to the 1980s are minimally processed. Later series have not been processed with the exception of Series 20 and 21.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged by negative format with a accruals of different formats at the end.

The collection consists of twenty-one series in 204 boxes and 12 file cabinets:

Series 1: Glass plate negatives, 1903-1932 and undated

Subseries 1.1: Academics, 1903-1930 and undated

Subseries 1.2: Athletics, 1918-1932 and undated

Subseries 1.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1911-1929 and undated

Subseries 1.4: Colorado School of Agriculture, 1915-1925 and undated

Subseries 1.5: Extension Service, 1915-1930 and undated

Subseries 1.6: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, 1905-1931 and undated

Subseries 1.7: Faculty, staff, and others, c.1916-1930 and undated

Subseries 1.8: Military Science/Campus Battalion, c.1916-1929 and undated

Subseries 1.9: Student life and activities, 1912-1931 and undated

Subseries 1.10: Fort Collins scenes, 1917-1929 and undated

Subseries 1.11: Subject images, 1919-1928 and undated

Series 2: Glass plate negative surrogates, 1903-1930 and undated

Series 3: Addendum to glass plate negatives, 1887-1906 and undated

Subseries 3.1: Academics, 1900-1902 and undated

Subseries 3.2: Athletics, undated

Subseries 3.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1902 and undated

Subseries 3.4: Extension service, 1901, 1906 and undated

Subseries 3.5: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, undated

Subseries 3.6: Military Science/Campus Battalion, undated

Subseries 3.7: Student life and activities, 1901 and undated

Subseries 3.8: Fort Collins scenes, 1901 and undated

Subseries 3.9: Subject images, 1887, 1901 and undated

Subseries 3.10: Lantern slides, 1902 and undated

Series 4: Glass plate negative subject index cards, duplicate prints of Series 1, 1903-1930 and undated

Series 5: Silver gelatin prints from nitrate negatives, 1879-1944 and undated

Subseries 5.1: Academics, 1918-1944 and undated

Subseries 5.2: Athletics, 1901-1941 and undated

Subseries 5.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1879-1941 and undated

Subseries 5.4: Colorado School of Agriculture, 1921-1927 and undated

Subseries 5.5: Extension Service, 1919-1943 and undated

Subseries 5.6: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, 1921-1927 and undated

Subseries 5.7: Faculty, staff, and others, 1887-1941 and undated

Subseries 5.8: Military Science/Campus Battalion, 1920-1941 and undated

Subseries 5.9: Student life and activities, 1919-1941 and undated

Subseries 5.10: Fort Lewis, 1935 and undated

Subseries 5.11: Fort Collins scenes, 1886-1940 and undated

Subseries 5.12: Subject images, 1924-1939 and undated

Series 6: Lantern slides from Christopher Sargent's presentation, undated

Series 7: Silver gelatin prints from nitrate negatives, duplicate prints and subject index cards of Series 5, 1879-1944 and undated

Series 8: Historic prints from glass plate negatives and nitrate negatives, duplicates of Series 1 and Series 5, 1879-1930 and undated

Series 9: Cabinet cards, 1879-1892

Series 10: Scenic file, 1924-1951

Series 11: Silver gelatin prints from nitrate negatives: "M" prints, 1928-1950

Subseries 11.1: Academics, 1940-1950

Subseries 11.2: Athletics, 1939-1950

Subseries 11.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1928-1950

Subseries 11.4: Extension Service, 1940-1948

Subseries 11.5: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, 1940-1947

Subseries 11.6: Faculty, staff, and others, 1939-1948

Subseries 11.7: Military Science/ROTC, 1943-1948

Subseries 11.8: Student life and activities, 1939-1950

Subseries 11.9: Colorado State's 75th anniversary, 1945

Subseries 11.10: Fort Collins scenes, 1942-1945

Subseries 11.11: Subject images, 1942-1943

Series 12: Silver gelatin prints from nitrate negatives: "M" prints, duplicate prints of Series 9, 1928-1950

Series 13: Silver gelatin prints from diacetate negatives, 1940-1951

Subseries 13.1: Academics, 1945-1951

Subseries 13.2: Athletics, 1945-1951

Subseries 13.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1945-1951

Subseries 13.4: Extension Service, 1945-1951

Subseries 13.5: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, 1942-1951

Subseries 13.6: Faculty, staff, and others, 1940-1951

Subseries 13.7: Military Science/ROTC, 1947-1951

Subseries 13.8: Student life and activities, 1945-1951

Subseries 13.9: Features, 1947-1951

Subseries 13.10: Fort Collins scenes, 1945-1950

Subseries 13.11: Subject images, 1948-1951

Series 14: Safety negatives "A" Prints, 1943-1961 and undated

Subseries 14.1: Academics, 1944-1954 and undated

Subseries 14.2: Athletics, 1944-1951

Subseries 14.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1944-1956

Subseries 14.4: Extension Service, 1943-1954 and undated

Subseries 14.5: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, 1944-1945

Subseries 14.6: Faculty, staff, and others, 1944-1957 and undated

Subseries 14.7: Military Science/ROTC, 1944-1952

Subseries 14.8: Student life and activities, 1944-1952

Subseries 14.9: Features, 1945

Subseries 14.10: Colorado State University's 75th anniversary, 1945

Subseries 14.11: Historical, 1944-1961

Subseries 14.12: Fort Collins scenes, 1944-1945

Subseries 14.13: Subject images, 1945-1954

Series 15: Safety negatives and prints: 1908-1953 and undated

Subseries 15.1: Academics, 1930-1953 and undated

Subseries 15.2: Athletics, 1908-1942

Subseries 15.3: Campus buildings and scenes, 1938-1952

Subseries 15.4: Extension Service, 1935-1952

Subseries 15.5: Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, 1938-1944

Subseries 15.6: Faculty, staff, and others, 1934-1952

Subseries 15.7: Military Science/ROTC, 1938-1944

Subseries 15.8: Student life and activities, 1944-1952

Subseries 15.9: Fort Collins scenes, 1944-1951

Subseries 15.10: Subject images, 1945-1954

Series 16: Silver gelatin prints from 4x5 negatives, "B" Prints: 1945-1979 and undated

Series 17: Silver gelatin prints from 2.5x2.5 negatives, "R" Prints: 1957-2001 and undated

Series 18: Silver gelatin prints from 35mm negatives, "T" Prints: 1957-1999 and undated

Series 19: Contact sheets and negatives, "PA_PR" Prints: 1966-1982 and undated

Series 20: William "Bill" Cotton photographs: 1980-2001 and undated

Series 21: Photographs from James Hansen: 1919-1995 and undated

Acquisition

The University Historic Photograph Collection was transferred from the Office of Instructional Services, now Communication and Creative Services, to the Archives in summer 2006. In December 2018, CSU photographer Bill Cotton donated an accrual of more recent images. In 2022, images collected by historian James Hansen that were housed unprocessed in Archives were processed and added to the collection.

Appraisal

The Coordinator of Archives and Special Collections met with Communication and Creative Services staff in December 2005 to survey the collection. Further appraisal was carried out by the project archivist. No items were discarded from the oldest series. Duplicates from Series 15, Safety negatives and prints: 1908-1953 and undated were discarded by the project archivist.

Separated Collections

Separated materials include eight CSU publications dated 1916-1931.

Processing

The photographic materials, both prints and negatives, were arranged by a consecutive numbering system original to the collection that is roughly organized by date. Duplicate numbers were used, and often duplicates indicate a different pose of the same subject, but can also refer to very different subjects. The original point of access to most of the images (and those covered in this finding aid) was a system of 8x10" subject index cards organized broadly by subject, and housed in a dozen 4-drawer file cabinets. These cards included a print of the negative, caption, date, subject headings, and negative number.

Notations on the cards are varied and inconsistent. Four different classification systems were used to organize the cards during the collection's active records lifecycle. Some cards do not include dates, captions, or negative numbers. Negatives and prints slated to be digitized that had no number were given a number during processing, starting with 20,000.

The donor sleeved most of the glass plate negatives in acid-free paper enclosures. The processing archivist replaced any enclosures mislabeled and/or labeled in pen. It is important to note that the donor was not trained in archival standards when transferring the new enclosures, and it is likely information from the original enclosures was lost. The plates were cleaned on the non-emulsion side and were rehoused in acid-free paper enclosures and labeled in pencil using the information on the existing enclosures and the subject index cards. The subject index cards were checked against the plates in order to synthesize information on the original enclosures with the cards. Captions in the inventory represent those found on the transcribed enclosures and subject index cards, except for the Western Slope Fruit Investigations and Glass plate addendum subseries, which were still housed in original enclosures. For those subseries captions were transcribed word for word by the archivist. The glass plates are stored vertically in acid-free boxes. Barrier board was inserted in the boxes to aid in taking weight off the plates.

Some contact prints and plastic acetate and polyester negatives were housed with the glass plate negatives, sometimes in addition to the glass plate, other times in lieu of a glass plate. Those prints that were in lieu of a glass plate negative have been labeled as "negative surrogates."

Sixty-five glass plates required stabilization due to breakage and cracks in the glass. Broken and cracked plates were stabilized using window glass to create "sandwiches" to keep the broken glass together as an entire image and are stored flat. All the glass plates were cleaned with a soft cloth on the non-emulsion side to remove dirt and fingerprints. About 45 glass plate negatives were identified as in serious states of chemical deterioration and presented possible health hazards and thus were destroyed.

The magic lantern slides had no original enclosures apart from a storage box. Each lantern slide was cleaned and re-housed in acid-free four-flap enclosures.

The silver gelatin prints from nitrate negatives are the contact prints made from the cellulose nitrate negatives. Due to safety and fire hazards associated with nitrate film, the donor duplicated their collection of nitrate negatives in the 1980s and destroyed the originals.

Unfortunately, the university did not give appropriate notice to the department responsible for making the duplicates and as a result, the duplicate prints were not developed according to the highest standards. While the images represent an important historical record from the nitrate negatives, the prints are rapidly fading, negatively affecting image quality. Due to the poor image quality of the duplicate prints made in 1980, the historic prints that were adhered glued to 8x10" subject index cards were processed as the archival masters. On occasion no subject index card existed and the 1980 print was used in lieu of a historic print on a card. The subject index cards were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Loose prints were rehoused in acid-free paper envelopes and stored in archival boxes.

The cabinet cards were removed from their original manila envelopes and rehoused in acid-free paper enclosures and stored in a metal edge archival box. Captions and dates found on the original enclosures were transcribed word for word to the new enclosures by the archivist.

The scenic file is a group of photographic materials with unique negative numbers beginning with an "S" and labeled as the "Scenic File." These materials were separated by the donor from the main collection as a distinct series. The subject index cards were rehoused in acid-free folders and acid-free record cartons. Loose prints, postcard prints, and negatives were rehoused in acid-free paper envelopes and stored in archival boxes. The negatives for this series were nitrate negatives, which are dangerous to keep and can adversely affect other collections. The Special Collections and Archives department asked the Morgan Library digital unit to create high resolution TIFF images of the negatives to serve as the archival master. The nitrate negatives were then destroyed by the hazardous materials department.

The silver gelatin prints: "M" prints series is a collection of 2 1/2 x 3 1/2" prints glued to 8x10" subject index cards. The location of the original negatives is unknown; they were not part of the collection transferred to the Archives. It is likely the prints were made from roll nitrate film that was destroyed in 1980 by the donor. Many of these prints were falling off the subject index cards and were rehoused in acid-free paper envelopes and stored in archival boxes. Some prints still remain on the subject index cards, and these cards were rehoused in acid-free folders and stored in acid-free record cartons.

The silver gelatin prints from diacetate negatives series is a collection of prints glued down to 8"x10" subject index cards. The original diacetate negatives are in various states of physical deterioration due to the effects of time and inadequate storage. The subject index cards were processed as the archival masters rather than the original negatives due to this deterioration. The subject index cards were rehoused in acid-free folders and stored in acid-free record cartons.

The "A" prints series is a collection of negatives and contact prints with unique negative numbers beginning with the letter "A" and were thus arranged as a distinct series. Many of the contact prints were glued to 8x10" subject index cards, but have fallen off over time as the glue deteriorated. Many of these prints show signs of glue staining. Groups of negatives were removed from manila envelopes and stored in individual acid-free paper enclosures. All captions, titles, and dates were transcribed word for word by the archivist onto the new enclosures.

The safety negatives and prints series is a collection of negatives and contact prints. As the photograph industry discovered the hazards of nitrate negatives, they created a stable poly base and named the negatives, "safety." This series represents safety negatives date generally before 1950. Many of the contact prints were glued to 8x10" subject index cards, but have fallen off over time as the glue deteriorated. Many of these prints show signs of glue staining. Groups of negatives were removed from manila envelopes and stored in individual acid-free paper enclosures. All captions, titles, and dates were transcribed word for word by the archivist onto the new enclosures.

The safety negatives and prints series is a collection of negatives and contact prints. As the photograph industry discovered the hazards of nitrate negatives, they created a stable poly base and named the negatives, "safety." This series represents safety negatives date generally before 1950. Many of the contact prints were glued to 8x10" subject index cards, but have fallen off over time as the glue deteriorated. Many of these prints show signs of glue staining. Groups of negatives were removed from manila envelopes and stored in individual acid-free paper enclosures. All captions, titles, and dates were transcribed word for word by the archivist onto the new enclosures.

The "B" prints series is a collection of negatives and contact prints with unique negative numbers beginning with the letter "B" and were thus minimally processed as a distinct series. Together with the "R" and "T" images, groups of contact sheets are kept alphabetically by subject in file drawers. All titles and dates were transcribed to a spreadsheet to create access.

The "R" prints series is a collection of negatives and contact prints with unique negative numbers beginning with the letter "R" and were thus minimally processed as a distinct series. Together with the "B" and "T" images, groups of contact sheets are kept alphabetically by subject in file drawers. All titles and dates were transcribed to a spreadsheet to create access.

The "T" prints series is a collection of negatives and contact prints with unique negative numbers beginning with the letter "T" and were thus minimally processed as a distinct series. Together with the "B" and "R" images, groups of contact sheets are kept alphabetically by subject in file drawers. All titles and dates were transcribed to a spreadsheet to create access.

The "PA_PR" series is a collection of contact sheets and negatives represents campus images taken with 35 mm film from the mid- 1960s to the early 1980s. The original order has been maintained for this group of negatives and prints. It is likely that the public affairs and public relations department donated this group of prints and negatives in 1982. Groups of negatives were already housed in archival enclosures. The contact sheets were removed from their binders, put into archival boxes and interleaved with acid-free paper.

The William "Bill" Cotton series contains slides, prints, and contact sheets of photographs donated by CSU's retired principal photographer, Bill Cotton. The series arrived housed in archival photograph and slide sleeves with contact sheets loose and remain as housed. This series has been completely processed and the inventory is included in the finding aid. The Photographs from James Hansen series contains photographs collected by James Hansen during the course of his research on university history for some of his publications on the history of Colorado State University. The photographs were stored unprocessed in the Archives until 2022. They have been processed and the inventory is included in the finding aid. The more recent photographs were likely shot by photographer Bill Cotton.

Title
Guide to the University Historic Photograph Collection
Status
Mini
Author
Prepared by Kate Legg
Date
Copyright 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA
970-491-1844