The Austin History Center's Photograph Collection contains over one million images, ranging in date from the mid-19th century to the present. These images illustrate the changes in the people, events, and natural and built environment that Austin has seen over the past century and a half.
Our photos are used by researchers, educators, authors, artists, journalists, and by those who simply want to enjoy looking at an Austin scene from the past. A number of photos from the History Center's collection have been published in books or videotaped for broadcast in newscasts or documentaries. Exhibits produced by the Austin History Center and by other institutions use photos from the History Center's collection. Photographic reprints of our images are available at a very reasonable cost.
Austin File. These photographs are arranged by subject. Photo subjects as general as agriculture or as specific as Barton Springs can be found in these files.
Biography File. The Austin File Biography photographs contain images of citizens of Austin who have made an impact on their community and are arranged by the names of the individuals or the surname of their family.
House Building File. This photograph file has images of structures located around the city, although the heaviest concentration of photos documents the central part of town. These photos are arranged by street address.
This photo collection consists of individual images and photo albums originally housed with an archival or manuscript collection. For example, the Niles-Graham-Pease family papers included hundreds of family photos that are now housed with the photos so that special photographic preservation measures can be taken to preserve them for future generations.
The Hubert Jones Glass Plate Negative Collection contains 466 glass plate negatives that document late 19th century Austin life. The Jones Collection compliments the Austin History Center’s existing 19th century photograph collection and includes street scenes, historic buildings, portraits and examples of the style of dress at that time. Hubert Jones, the donor of the collection, was an Austin resident and University of Texas Professor. He donated the glass plates in the 1950s. The extremely delicate nature of glass plate negatives has hitherto made the vast majority of these images unavailable to the public. This digitization project allows patrons access all of these unique images from our local history. The project was funded by a TexTreasures grant made possible by a grant from U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.
Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection
The Neal Douglass Photograph Collection consists of over 50,000 photographic negatives. Douglass was the first photographer for the Austin American-Statesman. He had a arrangement with the newspaper that allowed him to run his own studio. Photographs in the collection include images of the many news events he covered from the 1930's to the 1970's as well as private work. His clients included governors, legislators, civic leaders, and people from all walks of life. Parts* of this collection have been digitized and are available on the Portal to Texas History.
The Chalberg Collection is probably the Austin History Center's best and most used individual collection of photographs. The bulk of the images cover Austin 1900-1941, though some images of 19th Century Austin are included. The collection comes from the photographic holdings of the Ellison Photo Company. The Company was started in 1900 by E. P. Jordan and was originally the Jordan Photograph Company. Jordan occupied the second floor of 610 Congress. In 1914, Alfred Ellison and E. P. Cravens bought the company from Jordan's widow and it became the Jordan-Ellison Photo Company. By 1919, Ellison was the sole owner, Jordan was dropped from the name and the Ellison Photo Company moved into the first floor of 615 Congress. Russell Chalberg joined the company in 1955 and purchased Ellison's interest in 1963. Parts* of this collection have been digitized and are available on the Portal to Texas History.
The Austin American-Statesman negative collection represents the film shot and developed by Statesman photographers for the newspaper during the years 1958 through 1982. These negatives are arranged chronologically and can be accessed using the photographers' log books that are available in the History Center's Reading Room.
The Austin History Center welcomes donations of photographs that document the city of Austin and Travis County. Those who wish to share their photographs but prefer to retain the original prints for their own use, can loan the original print to be copied. The History Center photography lab can make copy negatives of the original prints, produce a copy print of the image and return the original to the person loaning the image. Those people interested in loaning their original photos to be copied should contact the Photo Curator at (512) 974-7386 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tornado - May 4, 1922. PICA 00406.
Ebenezer Baptist Church. PICA 08288.
Ben Hur Steamboat. PICA 13016.
City Council, 1910-1919.
Colorado River Flood, 1935. C08484-A.
Jones Glass Plate Collection - J101.
Jones Glass Plate Collection - J355.
Unidentified photographers. C09772.
Travis County Courthouse,
bf. 1930. PICA 25216.