William Henry Jackson

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William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942) was probably the most world renowned American landscape photographer of the late 1800’s on through the early 20th Century. His career in photography started in 1858 as a photo retouching artist, and then expanded to photographing the great Territories of the United States. He was the official photographer of the Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden’s, United States Geological Survey of the Territories. He worked in Colorado, traveled to Asia and the Pacific for the World Transportation Commission photographing 24 different countries. In 1897, Jackson joined the Detroit Photographic Company (DPC) and his already prolific work brought over 10,000 negatives to the company’s huge inventory and he helped the company sell millions of prints annually. By 1903, Jackson became plant manager which afforded him very little time for travel and taking photographs. The company was known as the Detroit Photographic Co. until 1905, when it then became the Detroit Publishing Company. With the advent of newer, inexpensive methods of printing that were being used by competing firms, it eventually took its toll on the DPC and it forced the company into receivership by 1924. After struggling for the next eight years, the DPC finally liquidated all of its assets in 1932. Jackson later sold all of the DPC company negatives and prints to The Edison Institute (known today as Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan) in 1939. The Institute held the negatives until 1949, when they were then donated and divided between the Colorado Historical Society (images ‘west of the Mississippi’, about 13,000 images), and the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all other views, about 20,000 vintage photographs, 25,000 glass negatives, and about 300 Photochrom Prints). The Greenfield Village museum still maintains 18,000 vintage photographic prints, 9,500 postcards, and 2,500 Photochrom prints. Jackson continued to work through his retirement years until his death in 1942.