In general, the photography collection at the DeGolyer Library supports the study of the history of the American west, Mexico and transportation world-wide. There are more than 1,400 photograph accessions or groupings totaling over 400,000 images in all. Single images can be found in individual accessions, and in groupings of photographs, stereographs, real photographic postcards, lantern slides, negatives and film.
Collecting at the DeGolyer Library began with the interests of Everette Lee DeGolyer, Sr. (1886-1956) and was further defined by Everett L. DeGolyer, Jr. (1923-1977), who also served as director of the DeGolyer Foundation. While he was drawn to all forms of transportation, railroads were his passion, and he built one of the most comprehensive railroad photograph collections in the country.
DeGolyer's collecting was broad based, however, and included mid-nineteenth century photographs of India by William Johnson, and albums from Italy, Russia, and other foreign countries. DeGolyer also collected negatives by many photographers, mostly railroad related. List of photographers/collectors represented in negative collections
The DeGolyer has several rare accessions, including Alexander Gardner’s 1867 portfolio, Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad (Route of the 35th Parallel), which is one of only four known copies of this early, significant western landscape project. There are also major collections of works by William Henry Jackson, Andrew Russell, George Barnard, Carleton Watkins, Charles Roscoe Savage and Robert Benecke as well as by photographers working in Mexico, Abel Briquet, Hugo Brehme and Charles B. Waite among others. The Banks McLaurin, Jr. Stereograph Collection consists of over 9,000 stereo cards and viewers, from all over the world. The DeGolyer also houses large collections that include both prints and negatives. The Jules A. Bourquin Collection has vintage prints and negatives of Horton, Kansas and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. The Richard Steinheimer Collection contains thousands of negatives and is particularly strong in western railroad lines. Also related to the railroads are the Roland Collons Collection of more than 100 scrapbooks and 10,000 negatives and the H.D. Conner Railroad Depot Collection consisting of thousands of negatives of U.S. depots. The Robert Yarnall Richie collection has approximately 10,000 photographs and 15,000 negatives from years of commercial work in the fields of oil production and railroads to name a few. A mid-century modernist, his imagery is significant for its documentary information as well as artistic qualities. The George A. McAfee collection relates to Dallas, Texas history with turn-of-the-century commercial city views. Dallas photographer Lynn Lennon’s collection contains a wonderful series of photographs of the State Fair of Texas, images of the Big Thicket in East Texas, Louisiana, foreign countries, animals and self-portraits. Besides being the engineer who invented the microchip, Jack Kilby was a skilled photographer, and his collection is at the DeGolyer. Kilby experimented with a fascinating variety of styles and subjects, abstractions and experimentation, people, urban views and landscapes.
The Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photography Collection documents all aspects of Texas photography, including various types as practiced from its earliest introduction to the state, many subjects and styles, representing numerous photographers, both professional and itinerant, who documented Texas, the contiguous states and Mexico. Subjects for research include Civil War and other military history, African Americans, Indians, women's history, social and domestic history, architecture, transportation, commerce, agriculture, ranching, photographers, Borderlands, urban and rural history, and material culture. Recently acquired, the Eric Steinfeldt collection of maritime views contains roughly 14,000 prints and negatives, particularly strong in Gulf coast subjects.
In addition to photograph collections, another strength at the DeGolyer is photographically illustrated books on a variety of subjects. For example, the DeGolyer owns the first book illustrated by original stereographs, Teneriffe, an Astronomer’s Experiment, by C. Piazzi Smyth, 1858.
Although smaller in number than the photograph holdings, there are also important graphic printed materials and art work at the DeGolyer related to the American West, railroads and Mexico. Among them are the African-American Film Collection, McMurtry in film collection, Gene Autry in film collection, and the Janak Western Print Collection. The Alvin Colt Neiman-Marcus Fortnight Design Collection consists of original drawings, blueprints, photographs and correspondence with Stanley Marcus related to the annual cultural event, 1963-1986.