Photographs of Indians of the Southwest by E. A. Bonine

Huntington Library. Photo Archives
Huntington Library. Photo Archives
Photograph Collections, 1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
(626) 405-2129

Descriptive Summary

Title: Photographs of Indians of the Southwest by E. A. Bonine
Dates: 1880-1883
Collection Number: photCL 200
Creator/Collector: Bonine, Elias A., 1843-1916
Extent: 73 photographs in 1 box; photographs 17.5 x 11 cm. (7 x 4 in.). See itemized list under "Additional collection guides."
Repository: Huntington Library. Photo Archives
San Marino, California 91108
Abstract: These studio portraits are of Native Americans from southwestern Arizona, and were probably taken in Bonine’s photography tent in Yuma, 1880-1883.
Language of Material: English


Access is granted to qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact the Curator of Photographs at the Huntington Library.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Photographs. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Photographs of Indians of the Southwest by E. A. Bonine. Huntington Library. Photo Archives

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Grace Nicholson Estate in 1963

Biography/Administrative History

Elias A. Bonine (1843-1916) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his early life, but at some point he became interested in photography for a career. In 1876, Bonine sold a sawmill he owned and moved to California along with his cameras. He traveled throughout California, operating a tent photography business as he went. His travels from 1880 to 1883 took him to Yuma, Arizona, where he photographed the Yuma, Mohave, and Cocopa Indians. The point of these photographs was not to archive the tribes’ cultures, but to satisfy customers’ desires to see a romanticized version of the Indians. Despite his popularity, Bonine left Yuma and moved back west to Pasadena, where he set up his home base. He travelled back to Arizona in later years, photographing the Silver King Mine area and the town of Pinal.

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection includes photographs of Chief Pasqual of the Yuma tribe, and posed portraits of members of the Yuma, Apache, Pima, Cocopa, Tohono O’Odham (also known as the Papago), and Mohave tribes. A few of the portraits have been identified with the names of people and tribes, but the majority of individuals remain unidentified.

Indexing Terms

Apache Indians
Cocopa Indians
Indians of North America--Arizona
Mohave Indians
Pima Indians
Tohono O’Odham Indians
Yuma Indians

Additional collection guides