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Philip Embury Harroun Photograph Collection

Identifier: PAC 048

Scope and Content

This collection exists today becaue of the stewardhship of his daughter Dr. Phyllis Harroun who carefully preserved both negatives and prints. While his activity as a photographer spanned less than ten years, Philip Harroun's pictures are of more than passing interest. He developed a sound compositional eye for both static views and the fleeting things of everyday life. His views of irrigation work during their first development in New Mexico, his accurate reports of Indian dances in motion, gambling or street events are rare and valuable in their directness. Since he photographed to preserve for himself what he saw as a man interested in his time and his place, he has left us with one of the clearer views we have of a time in New Mexico about which there hovers more nostalgia than knowledge.


  • 1890 - 1910
  • Majority of material found in Placeholder Unit Date Text

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to researchers on an appointment basis only, pending approval of application to view original material

Copy Restrictions

Permission to publish must be obtained from Photo Archives. Online Request Permission form available at: User responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biographical Information

Philip Embury Harroun was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 14, 1867 to Civil War doctor William Smith Harroun and his wife Mary Houghton Harroun. In 1881 his mother developed pulmonary tuberculosis and for the sake of her health, Harroun's parents moved the family of three children to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Philip had hoped to be a physician like his father and grandfather. Unfortunately due to a severe hearing defect which developed in childhood, it became apparent he would never be able to complete the studies. However, he did enroll at the University of California Berkeley where his gift for math and interest in water resulted in his becoming a successful hydraulic engineer. Upon moving back to Santa Fe, where he lived with his parents in their Palace Avenue home, he worked on his engineering practice while studing higher mathematics, which was to become a life-long practice.

During his time in Santa Fe he developed an interest in photography. Using glass plate negatives, which he developed and printed himself, he began photographing on surveying trips for work and visits to the pueblos. He also recorded local customs, festivals, his family and home.

After marrying Nellie Purdy in 1897 the couple moved to Albuquerque. As his engineering practice grew he found less time for photography but still captured images of the city, his home, wife and their activities. Having a special fondness for his time in Berkeley, when he was offered a position with the city in 1902, they sold their home on Gold Avenue in Albuquerque and moved to California. Around the same time he sold his camera and packed up his negatives. He bought his daughter Phyllis a Kodak Brownie and taught her to develop her own negatives and print them. Other than a few snapshots he never took another photograph.

Having a close relationship with his parents Philip returned to Santa Fe often for visits. His wife and daughter spent the summer of 1906 in Santa Fe following the devastating earthquake in San Francisco. His final visit to Santa Fe was in 1920 to attend his father's funeral. He never returned to Santa Fe following the death of his parents. He retired at age 70 and died in San Francisco in 1947.


6 Linear Feet

Related Material

Harroun family related materials in the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library; Phyllis Harroun Collection AC 103, William S. and Philip E. Harroun Papers AC 102-P and Mary Haughton Harroun Collection AC 104.
Philip Embury Harroun Photograph Collection, 1890 - 1910
Edited Full Draft
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the NMHM Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Repository

113 Lincoln Ave.
Santa Fe NM 87501 USA