The Palace of the Governors Photo Archives houses photographic material of local, regional, and international significance, dating from approximately 1845 to the present—a gold mine for researchers and scholars. The collection includes historic photographic prints, cased photographs like daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, glass plate negatives, tintypes, stereographs, albums, film negatives, photo postcards, panoramas, color transparencies, lantern slides, as well as magnetic video, film, and born-digital photographs.
The archives specializes in photographs illustrating the histories and cultures of the people of New Mexico and the southwest, as well as westward expansion and Hispanic and Native American cultures generally. However, the collection should not only be thought of as a regional archive: past acquisitions and donations have addressed the history and development of photography, and smaller collections document Europe, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East.
Broadly, Photo Archives holdings also address important trends in historical photographic processes; in documentary, vernacular, and commercial photography; in ethnographic, anthropological, and archaeological photography; in examples of fine artistic expression and popular visual culture; and in bodies of work by regional photographers.
From the first 19th-century daguerreotypists who accompanied western expeditions to the U.S. Territory of New Mexico to today's photographic innovators, two things have gone hand-in-hand—the invention of the camera and photographic representations of our state's landscape and cultures. The Historical Society of New Mexico began a photography collection in 1859. In 1881 the famous expeditionary photographer William Henry Jackson visited Santa Fe, presented a collection of images to the Society, and was voted an honorary member.
Today, contemporary photographers are donating their archives to the Photo Legacy Project, an initiative of the New Mexico History Museum to document the past 50 years of New Mexico's visual history. Current contributors include Sam Adams, Cary Herz, Herbert A. Lotz, Tony O'Brien, Jack Parsons, and Donald Woodman. Please contact the Photo Archives to inquire about making a donation.
Recent publications from the Photo Archives available from the Museum of New Mexico Press include Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe, Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography, and ORALE! LOWRIDER: Custom Made in New Mexico. Now available from OU Press: Hardship, Greed and Sorrow: An Officer’s Photo Album of 1866 New Mexico Territory.