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George P. Thresher Negative Collection of the Southwest
photCL 449  
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A collection of negatives focusing on the American Southwest and Native Americans of the region, particularly of Arizona, and the Gila River crossing area, from ca. 1898 to 1910. Tribes depicted include Yuma, Apache, Navajo, Maricopa, Pima, and Papago (Tohono O’Odham). There are views of native peoples in their daily lives, as well as posing in studio portraits. There are also landscape and town views, including Phoenix (AZ), Santa Fe (NM), missions at San Antonio (TX), and the Salt Lake Temple in Utah.
George P. Thresher was born on September 11, 1854 in Massachusetts and emigrated to California in 1895. Described variously as an amateur photographer and real estate developer, he lived in Los Angeles until his death in 1927 at age seventy-two. Between 1904 and 1926, Thresher appears in the Los Angeles business directories, often listed as a real estate broker with office addresses on either the 200 or 300 block of Broadway. At various points in his career, he served as the Director of the Artesian Company of Los Angeles and the Vice President of the Los Angeles Building Company. He married Florence Evans Stone in 1878 and they had three daughters together. From 1905 until his death, he resided at 37 Westmoreland Place in Los Angeles. Thresher took up photography at some point in his life, concentrating his efforts on California and the Southwest. A few of his photographs depicting missions and similar subjects appear in books by noted lecturer, author, and promoter, George Wharton James. James credited images to Thresher in “The Old Franciscan Missions of California” (1913), “In and Out of the Missions of California” (1906), and “Through Ramona’s Country” (1909). Thresher eventually sold his negatives to Charles C. Pierce, the proprietor of a large photographic supply business and studio as well as the largest picture library in Los Angeles. Once Pierce purchased a photographer’s images, he rarely credited the creator, stamping his own name on the print instead. This practice may explain some of the confusion surrounding attribution of Thresher’s prints which are variously credited to Pierce and George Wharton James. Adding to the confusion, some of Thresher’s negatives in the Huntington collection appear to be copies of images by other photographers of the period. NOTE ON SOURCES: Information drawn from County of Los Angeles death certificate and “Western History-Material” document at the Los Angeles Public Library. Copies of both documents are in the collection file. / Letter from C.C. Pierce to Leslie E. Bliss, Librarian at the Huntington, November 16, 1933. See C.C. Pierce Collection File (photCL Pierce), Photo Archives. See also the C.C. Pierce Finding Aid for more information on Pierce and his business.
83 glass plate negatives and 129 film negatives in 7 boxes; 8 lantern slides and 188 copy prints made from the original negatives in 1 box. See itemized list under “Additional collection guides.”
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.
Access is granted to qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact the Curator of Photographs at the Huntington Library.