British photographic history

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I am currently researching the last photograph in this album - William Blackmore and Red Cloud, taken by Alexander Gardner in 1872.

I stumbled across this site and a very interesting blog from 2014 in which Kevin J McCann was researching an aspect of the William Blackmore Collection and both Paula Richardson Fleming and Antony Hamber contributed.

I am hoping that they might be able to answer some questions I have. I am awaiting the arrival of Antony Hamber's biography of William Blackmore and have consulted and enjoyed Paula Richardson Fleming's books on the Shindler Collection and Native American photography at the Smithsonian.

So I am trying to discover:

1 Why did William Blackmore choose to be photographed with Red Cloud? Was William Blackmore part of the 1872 delegation? If so, why, as he wasn't American.

2 Is it certain that Alexander Gardner took this photograph?

3 Was this album of photographs entirely of Red Cloud? 

4 Is the negative of the photograph in the Smithsonian?

5 When was the last copy made?

And specifically for Paula if she happens to read this blog:

1 What year did you come to the British Museum to research with Harry Persaud?

2 Did the Blackmore Collection include photographs from the Shindler Catalogue?

3 What state was the Blackmore Collection in when you began to catalogue and digitize it? Had it been touched since arriving at the British Museum in the 1930s?

4 To confirm: Blackmore had the photographs copied for the Smithsonian before the albums were sent to his museum in Salisbury. How many albums were sent?

5  It would be very helpful if you have any more information about the William Blackmore meets Red Cloud photograph. I had a very fruitful afternoon of research at the British Museum archive, but info on this particular photograph is elusive as it wasn't part of the Shindler Catalogue.

Any help on the above questions gratefully received! Thankyou!

Suzy Quinn

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Comment by Paula Fleming on October 17, 2016 at 19:35

Please email me at  Looking forward to chatting.

Blackmore is a favorite subject.

Comment by susan jane aitchison on October 17, 2016 at 19:07
Hi Paula
Thankyou so much for your detailed and speedy answers to my questions. I have yet to give them my full attention due to other commitments, but will be reading them and will reply to you on Wednesday. Being new to this blog how do I private message you?
Comment by Paula Fleming on October 17, 2016 at 14:00

Hi – I’m happy to work with you on this complex issue, but best to private message me as not enough space here.  In the early 2000s I helped Sandra Camarda with her dissertation (see below) on Blackmore as the issues are complex.  I have summarized things as succinctly as possible in The North American Indians in Early Photographs,  and Shindler Catalogue.   Here are some quick answers:

General Questions:

1.  No Blackmore was not part of any Native American delegation.  He appreciated the Indians and esp. Red Cloud, so when the opportunity arose he took advantage of the timing.   Blackmore supported research on the Indians and collected photos and artifacts. 

2.  Gardner absolutely took the photograph along with many other delegation photographs.  I was the Photo Archivist for the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives which houses the original glass plate negatives not only by Gardner, but also other photographers and other years from 1857 – early 1870s.  Not only is there a goodly amount of primary documentation (Blackmore’s nephew’s diary documents visits to Gardner’s studio; newspaper reports; etc.) but chemical analysis also identified unique markers.  Since photographers produced their own collodion this is a great tool.

3.  Gardner took photographs of all of the many delegations that came to Washington, D.C. in the early 1870s.  Each group got its own album (Blackmore created the albums from Gardner’s photographs).  Each individual was photographed front and profile.  The rest of the Red Cloud album is of other delegation members.

4.  Yes all of the glass plate negatives are in the Smithsonian (see above).  To fully deal with the problems of creation, provenance, etc. one must work with these negatives as some information can only be found using UV light.  Unfortunately these negatives are not normally pulled, but the good news is that I have published everything in my Shindler book including references to specific entries for each image in the Shindler and Jackson catalogues, the Smithsonian and the British Museum collections.

5.  I’m afraid I don’t understand the question.  Do you mean which Blackmore album?  Since he likely produced them after the originals were returned, and he produced more albums then the 1872 delegations (see below), likely you will either have to look at original correspondence in the Blackmore collection files, or probably Sandara Camarda discussed.  I can’t remember all of her PhD dissertation.

Questions for me:

1.  I started to work with the British Museum (Jonathan King, Harry Persaud, etc.) in the early 1970s and continued until both retired.   Because the collections overlapped but neither had all of the images in ALL of Blackmore’s albums, we exchanged copies of missing images to each repository. 

2.  Please read my publications, but in brief Blackmore collected original photographs and contracted to have negatives made of the Indians.  He loaned these to the Smithsonian for copying.  Shindler copied them, but Shindler was also a photographer who took his own delegation photos.  The aggregate of these photographs was exhibited by the Smithsonian starting in 1869 and a catalogue was written (Shindler Catalogue).  Most of the original photographs were returned to Blackmore who created albums, thus there is overlap but Blackmore continued to collect and create new albums beyond the 1872 delegations.  His earliest catalog was of the early 1850s delegations.  Again more data is in my books.

3.  The Blackmore collection was housed properly and as far as we could tell, maintained Blackmore’s original organization.

4.  See my answer above.  Blackmore created his own albums once the images were returned.

5.  For more info. on Blackmore and Red Cloud, I am happy to provide primary documentation on the delegation and Blackmore’s letters, but you may find it easier to consult Frank Goodyear’s book, Red Cloud:  Photographs of a Lakota Chief.  His book, as well as my Native American Indians in Early Photographs contain the photo of Blackmore and Red Cloud (it was in the orig. album as well).  You can obtain a copy from the Smithsonian – the neg. # is 3243-A-1.

    For the best understanding of Blackmore and his collection, you should try and consult Sandra Camarda’s dissertation, Journeys into the Materiality of Photographs:  The Base of the Blackmore Collection, 2008   Her PhD is from UCL in London so hopefully easy enough for you to locate.

   Finally I need to underline Blackmore and the photographs are a very complex situation and several researchers have gone astray because they have not worked with all of the original material that was produced.  One must work with all of the original prints in their various formats, original correspondence, and esp.the glass plate negatives.  These materials are in two different countries and require weeks of research to evaluate which complicates the situation. Unfortunately the glass plate negatives are not normally pulled for research purposes.  Fortunately all of the data available and the best interpretations have been published by myself and Dr.Camarda.

  Lastly, might I ask why you are interested in these?  I’m always happy to help if I can.  

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