Irrigation Photograph Collection
Scope and Contents
The Irrigation Photograph Collection consists of images dated about 1889 to 1933, with the bulk falling from 1898 to 1909. The collection contains lantern slides and glass plate negatives related primarily to irrigation and agricultural subjects in Colorado and around the world. Colorado locations include the Colorado Agricultural College campus, Long's Peak, the San Luis Valley, and the Eastern Plains. Other United States locations include California and Pennsylvania. Other countries significantly represented through irrigation or cultural sites include Egypt, Algeria, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Mexico. The majority of images have identifications from a card index or on their original storage envelopes. Many of the lantern slides are from commercial photography studios, and throughout the collection few photographers are identified.
- Creation: 1889-1933
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1898-1909
Restrictions on Access
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Restrictions on Use
Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.
This collection of photographs, in whole or in part, was used for instruction of and study by irrigation engineering students. It originated with the establishment of irrigation engineering as a course of study in 1890 at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University). That course was also the first of its kind in the United States.
College catalogs from 1890 until 1901 include this sentence (or a variation) within the description of the irrigation engineering department: "There is also available, belonging to the Department and to the Professor of Engineering, collections of photographs and plans of engineering and irrigation structures in Colorado and other States of the Union, as well as in Spain, Italy, France, Algeria, Egypt, India, and Australia." This refers specifically to at least the lantern slides in this collection; the glass plate negatives, since they extend to other subject areas, may have been from a central file or have a different origin. Some are associated with the Agricultural Experiment Station.
The professor referenced above is Louis G. Carpenter, the professor of physics and engineering (later changed to physics and irrigation engineering) starting in 1888. Carpenter maintained a keen interest in the history of irrigation development around the world. He served as director of the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1899 until 1911 and as Colorado State Engineer from 1903 to 1905.
Though the collection's path after Carpenter departed is unclear, the civil engineering department seems to have retained the materials for decades but intended to dispose of them, apparently sometime in the 1980s. One of the collection donors, James Ruff, an emeritus faculty member of Colorado State University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, saved the materials from disposal and stored them for, he believes, around thirty years, until 2016.
9 linear feet (18 slide and negative boxes)
Language of Materials
The Irrigation Photograph Collection contains lantern slides and glass plate negatives related primarily to irrigation and agricultural subjects in Colorado and around the world. Colorado locations include the Colorado Agricultural College campus, Long's Peak, the San Luis Valley, and the Eastern Plains. Other countries significantly represented through irrigation or cultural sites include Egypt, Algeria, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Mexico. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.
The collection consists of 2 series in 18 boxes:
Series 1: Lantern slides, circa 1889-1933 and undated
Series 2: Glass plate negatives, 1891-1914 and undated
The Irrigation Photograph Collection was donated by James and Walta Ruff in October 2016. They donated additional materials in September 2020.
Some items in this collection have been digitized and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.
Processing of the original donation was completed in July 2017, with the addition incorporated in November 2020. All photographic materials were removed from their original housings, cleaned, and inserted into archival enclosures or sleeves. Some original envelopes were retained as samples or where handwriting was difficult to read. Most broken glass items were not retained. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides that were not numbered or that had numbers outside of the main listing were generally not retained. Some of these were transferred to the University Historic Photograph Collection. Deteriorated, unidentified, and unimportant nitrate negatives were not retained. The remainder were digitized and discarded. Most unnumbered prints and three envelopes of more modern photographs and negatives were discarded. Among the non-photographic materials, printer's copies for publications were discarded, with the exception of one folder which serves as an example. The current meter that came with the collection was transferred to the Ralph L. Parshall Collection.
Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e."
- Carpenter, L. G. (Louis George), 1861-1935. (Person)
- Stannard, Jay D. (Person)
- Payne, J. E. (James Edward) (Person)
- Colorado Agricultural College. (Organization)
- Colorado Agricultural College. Department of Civil and Irrigation Engineering. (Organization)
- Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. (Organization)
Genre / Form
- Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico)
- Fort Collins (Colo.)
- San Luis Valley (Colo. and N.M.)
- Guide to the Irrigation Photograph Collection
- Edited Full Draft
- Prepared by Patricia J. Rettig, Natalie Pace, and Jessy Morris; revised by Patricia J. Rettig
- Copyright 2020
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository
Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA