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Images in Silver

An installation of images from Albuquerque Museum's Photo Archives celebrating the publication of the 50th anniversary collections guide


Isleta Maiden, c. 1890. Cobb Studio Collection. Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives

Isleta Maiden, c. 1890. Cobb Studio Collection. Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives

On view through November 2019

Albuquerque Museum's rich archive of historic photographs document Albuquerque, its people, architecture, businesses, urban landscape, and depictions of daily life and important events. The archives have long served as an important resource for the community, including artists and writers.

Albuquerque Museum's 50th anniversary is commemorated in a series of books highlight the Museum's collections. The guide to Photo Archives features 180 images drawn from six collections acquired over the years. The exhibition includes 24 representative images that celebrate the publication of the anniversary collections guide. 

Images in Silver: Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives

The images in this exhibit have been selected from the Photo Archives guide which features photographs from six collections. They include three Albuquerque commercial studios, two amateur photographers, and an itinerant photographer working during the Great Depression.

William and Eddie Cobb Studio Collection

William Cobb came west to Albuquerque to ease his suffering from tuberculosis in the city’s warm climate, sunshine, and elevation. Cobb, born in New York and Harvard educated, made Albuquerque his home in 1889. A skilled photographer, he bought the existing photography studio of W. Calvin Brown.

Edmundie (Eddie) Ross moved west to be the personal secretary to her father, former United States Senator from Kansas, Edmund Ross. Ross was the recently appointed New Mexico Territorial Governor. Eddie, also an accomplished photographer, later found work in the Cobb studio as a retoucher.

William Cobb and Eddie Ross were married in 1891. They shared their skills as photographers and built a thriving business. The Cobbs used a variety of cameras over the years. Their earlier work was with an 8x10 studio view camera. They had a 5x7 field camera for location photography. The Cobbs made the transition from glass plate negatives to the more modern acetate film negatives.

The Cobb collection came to the museum from various sources. A collection of glass plate negatives was purchased from Walter Haussamen in 1990 with a City of Albuquerque 1987 General Obligation Bond. A collection of glass plate negatives consisting of formal portraits was purchased with a 2011 Trust and Agency Fund. A collection of cellulous acetate negatives of later work was purchased from Kathy and Arthur Salgado with a 2014 Trust and Agency Fund.

Alabama Milner Studio Collection

Alabama Milner came to Albuquerque in 1918 with her brother and sister. Milner worked in the studio of the photographer William Walton. Algernon Milner, Alabama's brother, bought the Walton studio in 1919 and later turned the business over to his sister, who was the primary photographer until her retirement in 1955. Miss Milner captured Albuquerque history on film in her years as one of the city’s leading photographers. Milner captured her subjects on an 8x10 studio view camera.

Albuquerque Museum purchased the Alabama Milner Collection with a 1987 General Obligation Bond.

Brooks Studio Collection

The Brooks Studio was one of Albuquerque's high-quality commercial photographic companies. Harry and Leta Brooks started their business in 1923, offering portrait and business photography as well as photographic supplies to the community. Later, the Brooks' sons, George and Harold, took an active role in the business. George Brooks took over the studio after his parents moved to California in 1938. Through photography, the Brooks Collection chronicles the life of the citizens of Albuquerque through their portraiture. The Brooks’ exterior work included Albuquerque architecture and street scenes. The Brooks’ cameras were an 8x10 view camera and a 5x7 field camera. Their earlier work was captured on cellulose nitrate and later cellulose acetate films.

The Brooks Collection is a gift of Channell Graham. Graham, a local architect, found a cache of negatives and donated them to Albuquerque Museum in the 1978.


William Steele Dean Collection

William Steele Dean worked at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque; he was the organist playing accompaniment for silent films. Dean was a silent film fan and would walk the few blocks from the KiMo to the Santa Fe Railway Depot and Alvarado Hotel hoping to take photographs of famous passengers from the film industry traveling through the city. The Santa Fe California Limited spent a little over an hour in each direction on its route at the Alvarado Complex being serviced. This service break gave the passengers time to visit the Alvarado Hotel café and Fred Harvey Indian Room. The stop allowed Dean the opportunity to approach the notable people and ask to take their pictures for his scrapbook and to sign his autograph book. The photographs in this collection were all taken in the late 1920s. Dean took his photographs with a small roll film camera that yielded a 2 3/8x4 inch print.

The William Steele Dean Collection was a 1982 gift of Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Public Library.

Frank Speakman Collection

Flying a Stearman biplane from Hollywood, California, to Amarillo, Texas, Ross Hadley landed in Albuquerque at 10 o’clock in the morning, May 5, 1928, for fuel and became the first pilot to log in at the new airport. The Airport Register, a meticulous log kept by Frank Speakman, the airport manager, lists 31 visiting aircraft to the airport in 1928. The pilots at the time were flying state-of-the-art aircraft with makers like Fokker, Ryan, Stearman, Hamilton, Monocoupe, Travel-Air, Sikorsky, Eaglerock, Thunderbird, and Bellanca. Speakman was also a skilled amateur photographer. He would document the aviators’ arrivals and departures with his roll film camera which produced 2 ¼ x 4 ½ prints.

Speakman and William Franklin worked in Albuquerque for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Sharing a dream to build an airport, in 1928 the two friends formed a partnership and leased 140 acres near what is now Kirtland Air Force Base. They approached Albuquerque Mayor Clyde Tingley with their plan for the airport. Tingley was quick to support the project and offered City road construction equipment for the project.

Speakman’s photographic album and logbooks were donated to the museum by Clark Speakman in 1968.

Bandel Collection

In the fall of 1930, an itinerant photographer arrived by train or automobile in Albuquerque. In the second year of the Great Depression, the unidentified photographer set out hoping to take photographs of businesses in cities like Albuquerque and then sell prints to those establishments. The photographer captured interior environments, employees, and patrons of Albuquerque businesses. In one of the city’s cafés, as he photographed the employees he also captured his likeness reflected in a glass case. He was a bearded man, taking the photographs with a 5x7 field camera. In 1930, a box of pre-sensitized glass plates could be purchased in most cities. After purchasing the plates the photographer had the exposed plates developed and printed locally. In 1933, Ray Bandel exchanged cabinetry work for the itinerant photographer’s plates that were left behind. In 1977, forty-four years later, Ray and his son, Dan Bandel, gave the set of 124 glass plate negatives to Albuquerque Museum.