Skip to main content

Central Texas glass plate negative collection

 Collection
Identifier: 2016-001

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 46 glass plate negatives, measuring 4 x5 inches, found in G. Cramer Dry Plate Company boxes. The photographer is unknown. Identified images within the collection were taken in San Antonio, Texas and San Marcos, Texas. These include views of the Hays County Courthouse, the First United Methodist Church, and the Belgar-Cahill Lime Kiln in San Marcos, Texas. A street view of San Marcos, Texas is also present. Others depict scenes from the Battle of Flowers parade in San Antonio, Texas. A few images show soldiers in formation engaged in military drills at Fort Sam Houston with Lambermot home and St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the background. Others show armed men on outdoor excursions or posed beside horse drawn carriages. Unidentified images depict men, women, and children in various forms of outdoor recreation, viewing machinery, or intentionally posed for portraiture. There are also images of various types of machinery. Dates for some negatives have been estimated upon their subjects. All others probably date between 1892-1911.

Dates

  • circa 1882-1911

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

All images are digitized. Access to original glass plate negatives is restricted due to their fragile nature. Researchers are encouraged to use the digital images available at the online exhibit. Please contact the University Archives for more information at univarchives@txstate.edu.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain.

Historical note

The glass plate negatives in this collection are of the “dry” type, which was a significant innovation. Before their invention in 1871, photographers had to prepare the glass plates and apply emulsions, expose, and develop them while still “wet.” To process, or develop, the images, photographers needed a place that was free from light, a “darkroom.” Thus, wet plate photographers needed either to remain close to their darkrooms or recreate them in the field.

Dry plate emulsions did not have the same time limitations as wet plate. Their stability allowed for greater mobility and convenience. Photographers could wait to expose their plates and then store them back in the box until they could be developed. Nevertheless, glass plates remained fragile and surprisingly heavy.

While dry glass plates allowed the practice of photography to spread to a larger number of people, it was the invention of roll film (1887) and Kodak’s Brownie box camera (1900) which made photography widely accessible to the general public. Roll film was stable, lightweight, and a roll could be mailed to Kodak for developing and printing.

The photographer for this collection was using dry plates, we know they carried these heavy and fragile plates to locations to expose them, then carried them back to the darkroom to process them. The photographer likely needed considerable chemical and technical knowlege, specialized darkroom materials and equipment, and a dedicated work space to develop their plates and print photographs.

The glass plates arrived in Cramer's Lightning Dry Plate negative boxes. Mr. Cramer was a national supplier of dry plates beginning 1883.

Extent

2.7 Linear Feet (5 glass plate negative boxes)

46 items

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection consists of 46 glass plate negatives showing images of San Antonio and San Marcos, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as portraits dating from around 1892-1911. Notable images include Battle of Flowers parade, Fort Sam Houston, the Hays County Courthouse, the First United Methodist Church, and the Belgar-Cahill Lime Kiln.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice may be required for use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials were found at Goodwill in San Marcos, Texas and then donated by Mike Hughes and Helen Van Wieren in August 22, 2016.

Related Materials

See also: Battle of Flowers Parade photos, University of Texas at San Antonio. As well as the San Marcos Daily Record photographic negative collection (100.SMDR).

Processing Information

Original inventory and exhibit created by Roberto Gutierrez Jr., a Graduate Student in the Public History Program at the Texas State University, in the spring of 2018. Additional image identification by Alison Tudor and Dan Utley in 2020. Finding aid for ArchivesSpace created by Nicole Critchley in 2021. Additional image idnetification provided by Mark Cowan in 2022.

Title
Central Texas glass plate negative collection
Status
Completed
Author
Original inventory by Roberto Gutierrez Jr., ArchivesSpace finding aid by Nicole Critchley
Date
2021 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives, Texas State University Repository

Contact:
Alkek Library Room 580
601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA