The Frontier Photography of William Henry Jackson
William Henry Jackson’s photographs provided the first glimpse of the American frontier to most Americans. Arriving west only one month after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, he captured the power and grandeur of such places as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite in extraordinary photographs. His vast body of work also documents the rapid transformation of the West as immigrants poured in, boomtowns, sprang up overnight, great herds of buffalo were slaughtered, and American Indians suffered devastating defeats.
In this fascinating book, Laurie Lawlor tells parallel stories of the settling of the western United States and the wanderings of a man who captured much of that history in singular and beautiful photographs. Lawlor includes forty of Jackson’s photographs as illustrations for her narrative. Bibliography, timeline, glossary, and index.
Reviews and Comments
“Jackson’s images are balanced by Lawlor’s eloquent text, which folds in details about everything from the wonder of Yellowstone’s geysers to the debasement of the Native Americans. This is much more than a look at early photography; it’s a memorable, bittersweet valentine to the Old West.” (Booklist)
“With clear and engaging prose, [Lawlor] covers topics as diverse as industrialization, the Gilded Age, railroad developments, photographic techniques, racial prejudice, and the decline of the American Indian lifestyle. … Lawlor successfully brings the era to life within the framework of this remarkable career.” (School Library Journal)
“… changing world in which [Jackson] operated is abundantly explored … large and small photographs … are impressive. The thoughtful overview is an engaging introductory history that will invite further exploration. Scholarly appendages.” (The Horn Book)
A Note from Laurie
I decided to write about William Henry Jackson after I saw an exhibition of his photographs at nearby Northwestern University. Having spent many summers in the West, I felt homesick as I looked at the exhibit’s hundred-year-old photographs. While researching Jackson over the next several years, I became fascinated by him and by the remarkable impact his photographs had on how Americans of the time viewed the West.
written by Laurie Lawlor
Holiday House, 1999
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