Photographic Collections

This is a photo of annelle Weakly, manager of ASM's photographic collections.

Text by Jannelle Weakly, Photo Collections Manager, April 15, 2011

Access to the Photographic Collections

The photographic collections are available by appointment on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. To make an appointment or to request a reproduction and/or permission to publish a photograph, contact Photo Collections Manager Jannelle Weakly

About the Collection

A recipient of a 2018 National Park Service, Save America’s Treasures grant, ASM's anthropological photographic collection preserves a visual record of American Indian culture in the U.S. Southwest and northwest Mexico from ancient times (represented through photos of archaeology) to today. The collections' over 525,000 photographic prints, negatives, and transparencies provide documentation of the cultures, traditions, and technologies of the Indigenous peoples from the Paleo-Indian period to today and reflect 127 years of scholarly and avocational inquiry into the lifeways and aesthetic achievements of the Southwest’s native inhabitants and the physical evidence left by their ancestors.

The collection illustrates a continuum of lifeways, technological advances, and subsistence methods that enabled people to adapt and thrive in the desert, mountain, and plateau environments. The collection illustrates the variety of traditional technological production methods employed to create pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry, and stone tools and illustrates how these methods transformed over time.

Photographers in the Collection

Girl dressed in traditional manta, Walpi, First Mesa, Hopi Reservation, Arizona. Forman Hanna, photographer, c. 1920

Girl wearing butterfly whorls, Walpi, First Mesa, Hopi Reservation, Arizona. Forman Hanna, photographer, c. 1920

ASM photographs exemplify the early work of scholars like Byron Cummings, Andrew E. Douglass, and Emil Haury. All three are recognized for transforming American archaeology techniques. The collection also highlights the work of anthropologists like Edward H. and Rosamund B. Spicer who worked with the Yoeme (Yaqui) to help the tribe gain federal recognition and Grenville Goodwin who conducted extensive fieldwork among the Western Apache during the 1930s studying their social structure and material culture. He photographed the Apache people and their lands and attempted to preserve some of their past by collecting earlier photographs taken by others.

Avocational photographers in the 1920s-40s like Forman Hanna and Charles Morgan Wood, inspired by Edward S. Curtis, traveled the region and photographed native people. ASM has their entire body of work in negatives and prints. Helga Teiwes, former ASM photographer, contributed over one- third of the collection by documenting contemporary American Indian people from the 1960s-90s. She also photographed the discovery, excavation, and manufacture of numerous objects that are part of ASM’s nationally recognized collections of pottery and basketry.

Other notable collections held by Arizona State Museum include:

  • The Wetherill collection illustrates fifty years of running trading posts, excavations, and explorations by the Wetherill family in the Four Corners region. Included in this collection are photographs that document expeditions with Neil Judd (1909), President Theodore Roosevelt (1913), and Charles Bernheimer (1921) to Rainbow Bridge. 
  • Pal Keleman and George Eckert collections document Spanish missions throughout the western hemisphere.
  • The Donald Cordry collection contains photographs of Mexican mask-makers and textile weavers.
  • Daniel Boone Linderman, missionary/teacher shows a record of life on the Pima and Maricopa reservations in the early 1900s.
  • Gwyneth Harrington’s photographs document the lives of the Seri in the 1930s.
  • Tad Nichols, photographer and filmmaker, collections document the Yaqui and Apache in the 1930s.

See Selections from ASM's Photographic Collections

Selections from our photographic collections may be viewed at the Arizona Memory Project, including collections by Forman Hanna, Helga Teiwes, the Wetherill Family, and many more. This site, a service of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, contains digital versions of primary source material from Arizona’s cultural institutions, libraries, and archives.

Selections from the Rosamund B. and Edward H. Spicer Collection of Photographs may be viewed at the Smithsonian Learning Lab. These photos document the lifeways, culture, ceremonies, and families in the villages of Old Pascua, Arizona and Potom, Sonora, Mexico, from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s. 

Also at the Smithsonian Learning Lab, you will find selections from the Donald Cordry Collection of Photographs of Mexican Indian Costumes


Learn more about ASM's Photographic Collections

Watch this video in which Jannelle Weakly discusses ASM's photographic collecions.
Learn about our fundraising efforts to construct a new storage area for the photographic collections.


Queries about the photographic collections should be addressed to:

Jannelle Weakly
Photographic Collections Manager
Arizona State Museum / University of Arizona
P.O. Box 210026
Tucson, AZ 85721-0026