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tv   Using Photographs to Study Western History  CSPAN  December 1, 2019 9:05am-10:03am EST

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association president martha sandweiss gave an illustrated talk about how historians can use photographs, and the stories behind the photographs, to study and understand the american west. professor sandweiss has been studying and writing about photographs for forty years and argues that more historians should use photographic archives in their work. >> one minute past 12:30 p.m. welcome, everyone. i have the happy task of introducing your president and my friend marnie sandweiss. we will present this room and tell the story of marnie and me and her work, which got us all here. let me start with the magical alchemy of graduate school. all of us led to headed thinkers turned into old intoned scholars and teachers. the process works something like
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this. imagine a group of students as a cohort. the cohort becomes class meet. /-- classmates. once in a while they become lifelong friends. so, colleagues, cohort, classmate, colleagues, and that golden thing, a friend. i am cheating a little bit because she came to yell to study with harold lamarr a year after me and she was in the history department and i was in that ragtag group in american studies. not a cohort exactly. we did become friends, puzzling over readings, yachting's brilliant, but sometimes excruciating seminars. western history, some of you may
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know, was taught in the basement. and on friday afternoons. the slow drone of graduate students, our own included -- we survived our basement years, scattered, and became colleagues, solving problems about students for each other. so, cohort, classmate, collie, but for me, we became friends, most important. a last bit of graduate school alchemy that knit the strange world of ideas into the world of spouses, partners, families, and children where we live our lives. this long friendship made me lucky enough to read drafts of her books along the way, yellowing pages still turn up in
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my files. i read them and i read them again last week. i will tell you some of the things i have learned. laura gilpin of austria's book one a slew of awards and i do not have time to tell you all of them. but there's a story. she abandoned her colleagues and moved to fort worth to become the curator of photography. legend has it that -- he will tell you this -- legend has it her hiring was an accident. the interviewer confused or with another graduate student. true or not, the museum had a lucky break and she had a job
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offer, but with a hitch. she needed to defend a dissertation proposal, so she seems to have dreamed up an idea. she defended it and moved to texas. in fort worth, she published on texas photography. when laura gilpin left her estate to the museum, she had an archive, a subject, and a chance to work out her conviction that photography was more than opportunity to present things in a text. photography was an interpretive act, she said. she wrote a book about gilpin, but she wanted her phd. i have a story. she tells me that's the legend and is wrong -- that she finished this beautiful book, came back to new haven and said here is my dissertation and in a brilliant book, wrote a proposal, defended it, and turn in the dissertation. she told me she began the book, wrote the proposal, but i still
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say this. it's probably the fastest dissertation ever to come out of the yale history department. she continued to write about the visual history of the american west. including the award-winning history of the american west. but she has always been a historian at heart. she finally join the history department at princeton. through all those museum years, she was working on the big book on photography and the american west. "print the legend" came out in 2002.
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it swept up a batch of prizes and readers with his contention that the conquest and development of the american west could not be understood without reckoning with the simultaneous development of the history of photography. she pursued this claim through archives. note prior, research on photography led her to work on the expeditions that mapped the western landscape and the career of clarence king.
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her accounts of king's life "passing strange: a gilded age tale" returns to the biographical arts she learned about inviting about guilt then -- gilpin. what animates "passing strange" though is race, the color line that snakes its way through the post-emancipation united states. her own work and away, a survey of that color line. it shapes the web-based collaborative that she led him princeton on slavery. maps, graphs, it videos, left us with a campus changed by the
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materials they have found to record and represent enslaved people in the history of that university. let me end this intellectual wedding toast by turning to las vegas's other history and tell you one story about your president as a gambler. you wonder about this. this worked in santa fe -- come see me, she insisted, sure that the beauties of the southwest were what might win three sold needed at the time, and we took ourselves on a gambling adventure to the camel rock casino in the pre-technological
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days. we invested $20 in quarters and armed with our grubby plastic cups spent the evening playing slots. we turned it into an evening outing. it opens eyes. i will tell you, read her work and you will learn stuff. let me give the podium to my sleepy classmate, my generous colleague in my brilliant friend and let you listen to the next iteration of our marvelous weave of the visual, the verbal, the
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stories that play across history from intimate encounters to imperial schemes. raise a toast of whatever is on your table to her talk "seeing history: thinking about and with photographs." [applause] >> thank you, ann. when i first came to this meeting 40 years ago, i never
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imagine standing up your. i probably did not imagine's will standing. at -- still standing. but it's the friendships that have brought me back. i want to say at the outset, thanks to all of you. things to all for making this such a welcoming -- thanks to all for making this such a welcoming thing for me. it has been an honor to serve as your president. [applause] professor sandweiss: now, the french historian emmanuel e said once there were two types of historians -- parachutists and trouble hunters -- trouble hunters.
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he did not elaborate, but we can infer what he meant. the parachutist can see large patterns and track the movement of events, people, pathogens, ideas across vast stretches of space and time. you need to be a parachutist to see how old world germs or animals reshape the world, but you can miss thing from -- angstrom up there. from up high, it's hard to see the rhythms of daily life. you might spy the smoke plume from of all kaine no, but you would be hard-pressed to understand the trouble of volcanic ash. conversely, very local
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circumstances interest truffle hunters. a truffle hunter may not see how the volcanic currents dispersed the volcanic ash, but she might learn something really interesting by eavesdropping on a conversation in the airport bar. i am afraid of heights. by temperament i am a trouble hunter. i am not asserting this as a superior historical practice. it simply what i like to do. this is the practice to which my own peculiar career led me. i invariably had to start with the thing itself. and over and over again i learned that small objects lead
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to big stories. in petroglyphs and paintings with ceramic vessels and devotional art -- the settlement of the west in the united states largely coincides with the invention and spread of photography. the new medium came of age and through photography many americans encountered the west for the first time and photographs still shaped our mental images of the west. settlers, dustbowl farms. nonetheless, as western historians we have been more apt to use these photographs as illustrations than to think about them as primary sources that help us answer central questions about the western past. we shape the contemporary conversations about how to understand photographs. let's reclaim that turf. how might historians think about and with photographs? 19th century observers -- as historical observers look toward a new method, photographs seem to be the perfect documents for this new age of objective fact. the essayist oliver wendell holmes, among the medium's most
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this dude early critics -- astute early critics, regarded photographs as aides that incidentally preserve the details that might not have interested contemporary observers. theoretically, he wrote, a perfect photograph is added to lily -- absolutely inexhaustible. in a nod to the west he argued that the accidents of life left photographs and infinite charm. the oldest eastern city, in the myths of the shanties at pike speech and stretching across the courtyards of damascus, wherever man lives with the decencies of civilization, you will find the close line -- clothesline. later, the local search and george francis address the
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antiquarian society in worcester, massachusetts on photography as an aid to local history and called on amateur photographers to aid the work of future historians. he exhorted them to make a systematic photographic survey of new england's developing industries and he explained there can be no question that photography is the best method of securing these graphic method. it is by far the most accurate, the cheapest known to the present day and more than any other process, he said, it was nearly free from error caused ivy riots or prejudice of the operator. by 1902, one of the presidents of the historical association could put it this way -- "we dwell in an age of pros.
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since darwin, it has been no more possible to produce a crop of -- than for those who picture running horses to expel from the minds what they have learned from photographs about animal locomotion." today darwin and photographs of galloping horses provided the data that historians needed and they were useful antidote to what jamison called the imaginative human life that documented in earlier age. what bound them together was a commitment to scientific observation and the neutral recording of fact. now though, we view these professions differently and we might observe it is the subject to -- subjective object of the world that makes it historians
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and photographers kindred spirits. there is no mistaking a pen for a camera, but they make similar decisions about whether to reveal their presence, what to highlight, what to exclude. nonetheless, they have fundamentally different relationships to their subjects. historians are always looking back. photographers are always picturing the present, albeit an evanescent one that slips away the moment the sensitize film is exposed. consider the differences with which historians and photographers describe the world. let's focus on a photograph. for some time i have been
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exploring the stories made at fort laramie in the dakota territories by alexander gardner. and unidentified girl stands six men, members of the peace commission to negotiate a peace treaty on the northern plains. gardner made the picture as for the commissioner's work, as well as the daily lives of the native peoples and mixed-race families that lived there. i considered the challenges gardner made and making the photograph. i thought about what he knew in contrast to what i know. he knew how hot it was on this early may day.
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he knew the sounds of these people's voices. he knew what the men made for breakfast. he knew these people. but as an historian, i can know far more about their lives than he did. i can watch them walk into this picture and i can follow them as they walk away, out of a photographer's sight. with the tools of an historian, i can uncover connections that neither the photographer nor the subjects could fully discern. i can know that the child, whose name he did not record, was sophie, and i can know that her uncle would become the prime minister of québec. i can know that there was an
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army charge on a lakota village that resulted in the murder of sophie's app rather. i can know that a raid in directly led to a marriage that would last to close to half a century and become sophie's parents. i can know that her father is, at the moment this pictures been made, employing john b sanborn as an attorney to get federal compensation for property lost in indian raids, and i can know that general sanborn, ostensibly representing the federal government in negotiating payments to the assembled tribes, will get a cut of that money if he can diaper some of it to sophia possis father as compensation for his stolen horses. the point is not to highlight my or toical knowledge illustrate that photographers
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and historians can have different needs for the same picture. i also want to argue historians have a fundamentally different relationship to time than photographers do. pose can observe temporal change is part of immediate experience, but historians look the onslow personal -- beyond the personal and observing events is fundamental to their craft, to our craft. with the benefit of hindsight they can recover his little moments and links between discrete events and looking back they can reconsider people or events deemed uninteresting at the time, but valuable in retrospect. the unnamed photographer may have inadvertently captured the clotheslines at pikes peak, but it's up to the historian to explain whose clothes they were, and who washed them and hung them out to dry. it is historical research that
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lets me know more about young sophie's family, history than gardner does in 1868, and because i can see into her father's future, i can know that his lawsuits will remain unresolved when he dies more than 30 years later and i can know that one of her sons will later press his grandfather' us claims. even in the digital era, it is -- grandfather's claims. it isn the digital era, hard to shake the 19th-century century assumptions about the literalism of photography. offer anhs seem to unmediated glimpse of the past,
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no matter how much we know about photography's ability -- photographers ability to manipulate the scene. photographs are historical artifacts. they are not history itself. history is dynamic. fluid, inherently about change over time. photographs are static. their meanings change. in december of 1869, when general sherman standing third from the left thanks gardner for sending him copy of the fort laramie views, he highlighted the documentary value of the pictures, writing that many are beautiful pictures, but all give the tales of indian dress that will be valuable for some time to come. when the daughter of a sketch artist connected to the peace commissioners described the photograph more than half a century after it was made, she spoke of it more metaphorically
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as a ceremonial picture in the nature of a pledge to the future. on the 150th anniversary of the 1868 fort laramie treaty, gardner's images served as the markers of broken promises. photographs have histories of their own. historians need to pay attention not just to the visual information they contain but to the context, materiality, and shifting uses. every photograph is a moment seized from the continuum of flowing time and fixed for posterity. it focuses our attention on what we can see and it can be tempting to decide something is important simply because we have a photograph of it. civil war scholars note for example the dictator has become well-known, even though it has little historical importance.
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only because of several photographs made during the summer of 1864. as western historians we might ask, what stories do we emphasize? especially in textbooks. because we can visualize them with photographs. conversely, what stories might we overlook because there exists no photographs to anchor them in a particular time and place? because we value the evidence we have at hand, we can be led to imagine the moment fixed to the photographic image holds great explanatory power. but that is not always true. photographs document consequences more readily them -- more readily than causes. they capture particular material subjects but not abstract ideas. moments butfleeting do not explain how they came about. gardner's photograph of the six
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peace commissioners does not tell us anything about the tense negotiations between the sioux and federal peace commissioners sent to force them on a reservation. it cannot hint at the betrayal that will follow seven years later when the federal government reneges on its promise to make it a part of the reservation. it cannot predict the moment in 2016 when the federal board of geographic names will take general harney's name off the highest peak in the black hills and rename the mountain after the lakota profit. nonetheless, this photograph of seven people, the oldest born during john adams' administration. the youngest dime during franklin roosevelt's presidency invites the historian in to understand what is there and explore what is not. the photograph certainly drew me into the archives and that is
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where i found sophie's parents and discovered both of them came into fort laramie in the aftermath of general harney's attack. harney's actions set in motion the events that led them to meet mary and raise a large family. his frontier violence triggered their frontier love. the photograph alone does not tell that story. it does leave me there. over the past 50 years as photography has become an increasingly ubiquitous part of modern life, the media increased attention from critics and become central to a host of disciplinary subfields including visual anthropology, media studies, visual culture, visual studies, these fields all focused largely on the analysis of contemporary images.
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not historical ones. even in fields like memory studies where historical images can play a central role, the place for photographs remains unexplored. photographs can be handmade to what we call collective memory. a deeply felt set of convictions resistant to change. they can also be handmade's of history which employs the more skeptical and critical view of the past. photographs are not inherently one thing or the other. they derive their meanings from the ways we use them. american textbooks for example have long celebrated the construction of the transcontinental railroad with photographs like east and west shaking hands and joining. which depicts the celebrants of the golden spikes ceremony of 1869 excludes the chinese laborers who made most of the tracks from california and utah. in the late 19th century, andrew
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russell's picture supported the evolving collective memory of the transcontinental railroad as a triumph of american industry. in recent years however, as historians turn away from the triumph narrative, the photograph finds a new place in historical writing. once valued as evidence of the nation's technological prowess, the photograph now has value because of the very exclusion of the chinese workers reveals to us so much about contemporary racial thoughts. historical photographs shape our more personal reckoning of the western path as well. i first saw yellowstone through 19th century photographs and i anticipated my first visit to yellowstone would trigger a rush of familiarity. it did, but i was shocked. the place had green trees and blue skies. i had no idea. these old 1870's photographs had made the place recognizable to me.
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the monotone -- monochrome tones made the 19th-century west seem unduly remote from my own experience. gardner's photographic subjects at fort laramie experience their world in color. i need to remember that. their world was not so far away from mine as some might imagine. my mother reminds me that she was alive during sophie moussa's lifetime. she stands with a man who was born before lewis and clark headed west. i stand just two degrees of separation, two lifetimes from general harney. a military man with a violent temper, who i actually do not want to meet. writing about photographs in 1980, the french critic described what he called -- the element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow and pierces me.
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i will concede, the visceral response to a photograph can spark a good novel or a good film. imaginative responses are not the same as historical responses. imaginative responses favor feeling over analytic thought. they draw attention back to the viewer and away from the photograph itself. historians and non-historians alike might gaze with curiosity at the child whom gardner left unidentified in the photograph. she commands attention because she looks different from the men who stand by her, by virtue of her gender, size, age, and ethnicity. camera's gaze with an unflinching calm. the historian needs to push beyond that initial curiosity to tackle the who, what, why, where, when, and how of it all.
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it is the historian's task to figure out who the child is and resist the impulse to view her as an emblem or metaphor. and to instead establish her as a person with a rich history of her own. there is nothing wrong with historical empathy. but as historians, we need to bolster our empathy with research. sophie moussa own never saw gardner's picture of her. his photographs did not circulate back to indian country. emerging academic conversations about visual sovereignty, representational jurisdiction, and indigenous media remind us that native peoples have long been involved in the production and circulation of visual images. the needs of native subjects and non-native photographers don't always converge. indianearly 1980's, an
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school in south dakota interviewed locals about those whose ancestors had been photographed over a century earlier. the 1877 government catalog described associated tribal groups as people who had made more substantial progress in civilizations. many of them having permanently discarded the indian habits and dress. but a century later, community members recalled their relatives differently. struck by who you see on the right, it was no assimilationist. similarly, on the left they were an expert hunter who resisted federal policy. these family stories shift the meaning of 19th century portraits. photographs tossed out into the world as evidence of vanishing race get pulled back in as emblems of family pride. photographs may be stable objects. they do have unstable meanings.
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tracking the shifting work they perform overtime in a different context, that is the job for a historian. most historians, if they think about photographs at all focused on images, not material objects. it is illustrations rather than primary sources that should be the subject of historical analysis. 1996 series on the west. pay attention to its treatment of the revolt of 1680. while he carefully uses 17th and 18th century engravings to visualize the story, he relies on 19th and 20th century -- sorry -- i gave way my story. i was trying to highlight this picture here.
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he relies on 19th and 20th century photographs to depict the pueblo protagonist. this approach conveys an insidious image. european people change with time. one would never use images from two centuries later to depict them. native people live on in an unchanging past. a photograph 240 years later is just fine. we are susceptible to this a use of photographs when we did not know better. i like to imagine that burns' viewers realize that motion picture footage could not actually depict the pueblo revolt of 1680. my students presume they saw 17th-century dancers performing in front of a movie camera. i know, they are not alone. to move beyond the uncritical
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use of photographs as illustrations, we need to give our digital students a greater familiarity with technologies and formats. so they can better understand what photographs could and could not capture. who had the wherewithal to make photographs. how photographs circulated. we need to perceptual as the familiar world and help them appreciate how revolutionary this technology is. the enlarged pool of digital picture takers is profoundly shaping how the american west is now being photographed. and how it will be understood through photographic evidence in the future. we also need to reiterate for our students a point i just made. photographic meaning is not fixed. historians follow people and places, events and ideas through time. that is the hallmark of our trade. we need to follow photographs through time too. we need to be aware that we exist at a tail end of a
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continuum of viewers who have encountered a photograph. our need from the images differs from theirs. it is hard to look at this 1872 washington, d.c. studio portrait without visualizing the photograph of the frozen body made in the immediate aftermath of the massacre at wounded knee. it is hard to stare at a photograph of the young hawaiian schoolboy, barack obama, without also seeing who he will become. photographs depict moments pregnant with possibilities. by the time we look at them with our historian's curiosity about the past, the range of possibilities has narrowed. the kind captured in a photograph to stand still. but for the historian, it continues to unfold. a photograph of the twin towers rising over lower manhattan
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cannot be the same kind of document it was before 2001. it took me a long time to reckon with the shifting meanings of unchanging photograph. for years i worked on a collection of the mexican-american war between 1847 and the rediscovery in 1981. the world's first photograph of war and arguably the earliest examples of photojournalism in the world, they are astonishing artifacts, each in the phrase of the age, a mirror with the memory. this plate was there on a street more than 170 years ago when light bounced off of general and left a lasting impression on the sensitized surface. it offers an extraordinary kind of evidence. but in 1847, nobody cared. reckon withd to
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these types in time, rather than through time, despite their astonishing detail these types could not convey the kind of narrative drama they expected from visual images. the gravesite of henry clay jr., killed at the battle of buena vista could not compete in either narrative detail or visual appeal with something like this hand colored lithograph of his desk. the print artist here had tools akin to those that historians have. the print artist could look back with hindsight to compress time and drama and focus on a decisive moment to depict a noble and patriotic death. he could use printed words at
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the bottom to describe with precision the content of the image. those long, unseen types lead us to larger stories about the early reception of photography in the ways in which american struggled to understand this new medium. if photographs can help us uncover the slow embrace of the medium and they could also help us draft when the attitude changes. in 1867, alexander gardner titled this photograph westward the course of empire. a decision that points not just to the ubiquity of the phrase but the way in which americans could now read the meaning of a locomotive pointed west at the far end of a newly laid track. in the 20 years since the mexican-american war, the increasing number of photographs in the united states spurred by
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the invention of a negative technology that allowed for the production of multiple paper prints had familiarized americans with the source of images. most photographs in the late 19th century west could not invoke the obvious metaphorical vocabulary of gardner's railroad scene. in the late 1850's, as photographers began producing paper prints, they began using words to direct viewers meanings of their pictures. timothy o'sullivan's photograph in sierra blocker range, arizona might seem to be a little bit more of a scenic view. the caption explains the picture offers proof that white people can now enter the area because hostile apaches have been banished from their former home. words and images together convey
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the the most important aspect of point. the picture is what you don't see. these photographic captions mark an innovation that is rarely studied. even by historians who favor literary evidence over the visual. but they remind us, when we look at 19th century photographs as primary sources for our work, we must look at the image and assess the materiality of the photograph. but we also need to read. now, historians often encounter photographs in places we call archives. the very term archive is a slippery one. we might usefully imagine a distinction between the archive and the archives. the former, the archive, is french theorists as a more metaphorical meaning. the second refers to the brick
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and mortar places where they are described and stored. as philosophers have referred to us as the relations in the archive, we might also be attentive to the ways in which power relationships are described in the brick-and-mortar archives as well. the physical institutions that house large collections of historical photographs of the american west preserve the power in equities inherent with the collections they acquire. these are inequities that near -- that mirror those of western american life including those between people with money and cameras and those without. those between people who can refuse to be photographed and those who cannot. a vast category that might include those in reservations, prisons, detention centers, and children. photography is often called the democratic art. just as not everyone had the wherewithal to make a photograph, not every person or
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place received the same kind of photographic attention. economic interest dictated that mid-19th century california would be better documented than the new mexico territory. small towns better documented than rural spaces of indian territory. people with fixed residences pictured more than migrant workers. government interest also shape the photographic record of the 19th century west. photographers headed to the great federal surveys of the 1860's and 70's and documented transportation routes and natural services -- natural resources in service to the expansionist policies of state. in washington, d.c., studio photographers who made portraits produced pictures that would be used to support the assimilationist policies. collections of photographs contain particular structural biases before they enter the brick-and-mortar archives to collect materials. in these archives, whether they
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are academic, public, or commercial operations, additional decisions get made about access, cataloging, and preservation that further shape the possibility for historians work. the digital turn, the digital turn presents two broad and enormous challenges for historians who would use photographs. on the one hand, the question of how to think about born digital photographs, a term used in opposition to analog photographs, which are produced with chemical processes with physical and material form. on the other, there is the question of how to figure out digital archives. both composed entirely of digital materials and those created as older materials are converted to digital formats. born digital photographs constitute virtually all of the photographs being made today.
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people made an estimated 1.2 trillion digital photographs in 2017. one researcher estimates that every two minutes, we take as many photographs as the whole of humanity in the 19th century. this is way too many pictures for a researcher to reckon with in any meaningful way. even with help from artificial intelligence, whose programmed interests are not the same as ours, it is hard to make use of such an enormous collection of images. or assess the integrity of any individual image. we are in the midst of a tectonic shift here and it is hard to say how the emerging skepticism of the veracity of digital images will retroactively alter our faith in historical photographs.
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even familiar photographs can be rendered intellectually unrecognizable in digital iterations. the gardener photograph i am writing about exists in several different archives. sometimes adequately identified and sometimes not. in one commercial archive, the name is completely erased, replaced with a credit line that simply tracks the corporate corporate ownership of the image. the website provides no location for the original. it provides intellectual access to the picture with decidedly unuseful subject headings as a teenager, group of men, land. it offers to sell you a copy of the picture, whose original is
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uncopyrighted for $499. the integrity of a digital image presents one challenge. it digitizes our thoughts and tends to erase records. a person can compile through boxes and presume they have covered it all. but users of a digital archive, a digitized archive are hard-pressed to understand the relationship between what is online and what is in the real or figurative storage boxes. online archives function as men and hymns. stand ins for the physical archives. the relationship is rarely clear. the digitization of old course, has its virtues. it provides greater access to materials, minimizes the wear and tear on fragile pictures, and promotes new ways of working with digital records.
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often, at least in academic and institutional archives, the digital archives include enough metadata to make smart use of a digitized photograph. commercial archives generally include less data. they focus on the image while ignoring the materiality of photographic print. they push historians back to thinking about photographs as mere illustrations and make it difficult to engage them as primary sources that in and of themselves raise historical questions. commercial archives also exercise invisible forms of censorship. i have been watching what happens since bill gates sold his image licensing company to
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visual china group in january, 2016. the images of the tiananmen square protests were once readily accessible. now, although the chinese corporation that bought them has an american outlet, they are not. it is a valuable lesson. large commercial image archives reach viewers who mediated search engines that are subject to censorship and control. unlike the researcher who might be turned away from a brick-and-mortar archive, online researchers might never know. historians tempted by the digital turn need to be wary. it could actually impede historical research. what kind of historical source whoseixelated image
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related image whose integrity we cannot confirm and purpose we cannot figure out. what kind of source is an archive whose scope we cannot determine, whose political and economic ambitions are concealed from view. the problems digital images aside, they exist billions of photographs produced before the invention of digital photography with more made in the western any -- thans then any scholar could examine in a lifetime. i cannot think of a source for doing western american history, one so large and so little used. i fell into thinking about young photographs years ago. now i am back and i have to say the field is as wide open as it was when i began. new historical concerns compel us to ask new questions of that enormous corpus of western photographs.
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our new questions invest old objects with new meanings. historical photographs can help us understand climate change, the mechanics of colonialism, the ins and outs of immigration policy, policing of national borders, assimilationist projects of the federal government. they can lead us deep into family histories and community stories into legislative agendas and corporate policies. the historical photographs can also lead us back to trouble. the little stories that matter. and characters long forgotten. alexander gardner's photograph seven people assembled at fort laramie on amid spring day has led me to believe people to connected to the men we see here. an enslavedcountered women named hannah, who was
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whipped to death. hama said life has led me to st. louis and the practice of slavery in the gateway city. i have met colonel samuel f tappan's, at her brief life helped us understand a tangled web of anti-slavery activists and indian policy reformers. of course, i have been led to sophie, whose first marriage to a white civil war veteran and second marriage to a mixed-race man produced 13 children. whose life helps us uncover the diminishing opportunities for mixed-race families in the west. as color lines hardened in the wake of reconstruction. photographs help us answer hard questions. but they also help us expand the task of characters who populate the west and make our stories richer and more inclusive.
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over the past few decades, i have had fun roaming the fields of western history and the west itself. and exploring the photographic archives. the big metaphorical ones and the brick and mortar ones, too. it can feel lonely out there. we need more historians to care about photographs. please, come join me, i promise it is really a fun ride. thank you so much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [applause] watch american history tv all
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week on c-span3. today at 6:00 p.m. eastern on oral histories from the richer licks and, hillary rodham clinton on her experience as a lawyer during the impeachment inquiry of president richard nixon. >> if it does fall to you while you're in the house to examine presidentpower by the . asas circumspect and careful john was. restrain yourself from grandstanding and holding news conferences and playing to your base. sidegoes way beyond whose you are on or who's on your side. past onre our nation's
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american history tv, every weekend on c-span3. >> next on the civil war, national parks service ranger steve phan discusses the service initiative to build forts around washington, d.c. the battle of fort stevens, a campaign by confederate lieutenant general jubal early tested these defenses in 1864. this program was part of an emerging civil war symposium on forgotten battles. rob: one of the best things about coming to this is i get to introduce all my friends, so this is great. my next good friend is steve phan. if you are on social media, you know who he is. he is a rockstar star on social media. i will read his official bio. steve phan is a park ranger. prior to working there he worked at richmond national battlefield, rock creek park, etc.


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