Following Russell Sturgis' death in 1909, his photographic collection was acquired by Washington University at the direction of architecture professor, Frederick B. Mann. Intended for use as a teaching collection, the prints were mounted, blindstamped, and classified geographically for use in architectural history and design courses.
The photographs from Sturgis’ nineteen travel albums totalling 1,037 images have been digitized and catalogued along with 56 photographs from the West Campus Library. While primarily related to architecture, these late 19th century photographs also document period travel, archaeological, and portraiture conventions. The albums reside in Washington University's Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library's Special Collections. For an overview of the Collection, consult David Hanlon's Inventory of the Sturgis Photographic Collection & the Washington University Archives Finding Aid.
Digitizing the 19th Century Architectural Photography Collection renews its original purpose as a teaching collection. The project provides the first opportunity for a full collaboration between the staff in Visual Resources and the Art & Architecture Library and coincides with their August 2006 move into a shared workspace in the Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library. Further collaboration with the University Archivist and Digital Library Services staff ensures that copyright, preservation, and access considerations are addressed and resolved.
The breadth of the Sturgis Collection offers immediate opportunities for interested faculty to identify areas most relevant to their teaching which, in turn will help determine future digitization projects. Courses currently offered through the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts and Sciences and through the Sam Fox School of Design & the Visual Arts which would likely utilize the collection include: Islamic and Middle Eastern architecture, Medieval and Byzantine architecture and art history, exoticism and primitivism in modern art, the history of photography and architectural photography. Looking toward the future, digitizing the 19th Century Architectural Photography Collection will provide a rich resource for creative, interdisciplinary collaborations among the Arts and Sciences and Sam Fox School faculty, including potential new courses based on access to the collection.
Digitized images from the Collection are accessible in Luna as part of the Washington University Art & Cultural Objects Collection.
Selected works from the collection were displayed at the Sheldon Art Galleries from September 2006 to January 2007. David R. Hanlon, who curated the exhibit, wrote an essay about the collection.