Collection Scope and Content Summary
Title: Miles, Walter R. Research concerning Eadweard Muybridge,
Date (inclusive): 1928-1932
Collection number: M0736
Miles, Walter R.
5 linear ft.
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Abstract: Miles' correspondence about Muybridge, material about the Semi-Centenial Celebration and the invention of moving pictures,
ephemera and published articles about Muybridge, and photographs and negatives including those used by Miles in his articles
and publications about Muybridge.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights
reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To
obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the
Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Gift of the University of Akron, 1995.
Walter R. Miles Research concerning Eadweard Muybridge. M0736. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries,
Walter Miles, a professor of experimental psychology at Stanford University, endeavored to memorialize Muybridge's work by
establishing a permanent exhibit at the Stanford Museum and correspondingly hosting a 50th anniversary event.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
The Walter Miles Collection centers around the Semi-Centennial Celebration held during the year 1929 in honor of Eadweard
Muybridge's work completed at Stanford University from 1877-1878. Muybridge was a pioneer in photographic technique, and his
work with animals in motion at the Palo Alto Stock Farm, later part of the campus of Stanford University, led directly to
the development of motion pictures, a monumental advancement in photographic history. Walter Miles, a professor of experimental
psychology, endeavored to memorialize Muybridge's work by establishing a permanent exhibit at the Stanford Museum and correspondingly
hosting a 50th anniversary event, or the Semi-Centennial Celebration. Miles set out to collect any material that related to
Muybridge's time spent at Stanford, i.e. photographs, letters, notes, personal memoranda, etc. His correspondence, and the
responses he received, represent the bulk of this collection.
This correspondence is important because of the many discrepancies about the credit given to Muybridge for his work done in
the development of the motion picture technique. The basis of the dispute arose from a fraudulently patented camera device
(patented by Muybridge) which made consecutive instantaneous exposures on film. John D. Isaacs, a mechanical engineer working
for the Southern Pacific Railroad, developed the mechanical devices to enable such consecutive exposures to be made; however,
Muybridge was the one to patent the instrument. The correspondence from John D. Isaacs and his daughter, Lillian Isaacs Morris,
center upon this dispute.
Another problematic issue revealed in this collection is the publication of the book The Horse in Motion. Muybridge, who was
instrumental in the technique of photographing animals in motion, in particular Leland Stanford's horses, was omitted from
the title page of The Horse in Motion, authored by J. D. B. Stillman. Muybridge was deeply offended by this ommission and
proceeded to file suit against Leland Stanford and the publisher of the book, James R. Osgood and Company. Correspondence
regarding this lawsuit, between Stanford and Stillman, and the depositions of this lawsuit, appear in this collection. (An
in depth treatment of Muybridge's involvement with Leland Stanford, his work completed at the Palo Alto Stock Farm, and the
eventual legal battles between Muybridge and Stanford, can be found in the book Leland Stanford by George T. Clark [Stanford
University Press, 1931], chapter entitled "Animal Locomotion and Muybridge.")
Of Muybridge's personal history, Miles received an account of Muybridge's murder of Major Harry Larkyn from Johnston & Johnston
Attorneys at Law. In one letter of correspondence, dated December 30th, 1927, H. L. Johnston and L. E. Johnston go into lengthy
detail about the cause of the murder and the subsequent release of the 1st degree murder charges against Muybridge due to
the brilliant oratory display by his lawyer, Pendegast.
Regarding the actual Semi-Centennial event, the inclusion of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was considered
to be crucial in the ceremony. This organization owed its existence to Muybridge for his work in motion pictures, and among
the individuals present at the Semi-Centennial Celebration was Louis B. Mayer, motion-picture studio executive. Photographs
of Louis B. Mayer attending the ceremony can be found within this collection. Related also to The Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences is Miles' correspondence with such figures as Lester Cowan and Frank Woods.
Besides correspondence, this collection contains many of the published articles and ephemera that Miles received concerning
photographic technique and Muybridge's history. Among such ephemera is Muybridge's patent established June 27th, 1878 entitiled:
"Improvement in the Method and Apparatus for Photographing Objects in Motion." Included also are Miles' notes, speeches to
be given at the Semi-Centennial Celebration, and various newspaper articles and bulletins.
Photographs and negatives represent a large part of this collection. Many of the photographs and negatives, such as the horse
in motion, Muybridge, the Stanford-Muybridge motion picture studio at Palo Alto Stock Farm, and a series of portraits of various
personages involved in the Stanford-Muybridge history, were used by Miles in his articles and publications. The portraits
he used included such figures as Eadweard Muybridge, J. B. Stillman, and John D. Isaacs.
Of distinct nature in this collection is one box of 18 nitrate negatives, one box of 32 glass positives, and one box of 9
photographic half-tone printing blocks. The nitrate negatives and glass negatives are fragile, and must be handled with care.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Isaacs, John D.
Mayer, Louis B. (Louis Burt), 1855-1957.
Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904.
Stanford, Leland, 1824-1893.
Stillman, J.D.B. (Jacob Davis Babcock), 1819-1888.