Jackson, William Henry

born April 4, 1843, Keesville, N.Y., U.S.
died June 30, 1942, New York, N.Y.

U.S. photographer.

As a boy, he worked for a photographic studio in Troy, N.Y. After the American Civil War he went west and opened a studio in Omaha. He was the official photographer for the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (1870–78), and his photographs were instrumental in the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.

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▪ American photographer
born April 4, 1843, Keesville, New York, U.S.
died June 30, 1942, New York, New York

      American photographer whose landscape photographs of the American West helped popularize the terrain.

      As a child in Troy, New York, Jackson painted landscapes on screens and did retouching for a photographic studio. After serving in the Civil War he went west in 1867 and opened a studio in Omaha, Nebraska. During this period he photographed local Native American tribes and scenes from the line of the Union Pacific Railroad. From 1870 to 1878 he was the official photographer for the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. His photographs of the natural wonders of northwestern Wyoming, taken during a survey of 1871, were given to members of the U.S. Congress. The congressmen were so impressed by the photos that Jackson's work proved instrumental in the vote to establish Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Jackson photographed in the Grand Tetons (in an area now part of the Grand Teton National Park) in 1872, and in 1874 he took photographs of the cliff dwellings of Colorado (now Mesa Verde National Park). When the survey was completed in 1879, he opened a studio in Denver, Colorado.

      In 1893 Jackson exhibited his work at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago, where he was also the fair's official cameraman. Shortly thereafter he became the cameraman and part-owner of a company in Detroit, Michigan, that bought the rights to the new Photocrom process for printing photographs in colour. He worked there until the company's collapse in 1924. Although retired after 1932, Jackson continued to take on occasional government commissions until his death.

Additional Reading
Clarence S. Jackson, Picture Maker of the Old West: William H. Jackson (1947, reprinted 1971); Beaumont Newhall and Diana E. Edkins, William H. Jackson (1974); Peter B. Hales, William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape (1988).

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Universalium. 2010.

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