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Harold D. Walter Collection

Identifier: PAC 055

Scope and Content

The collection was acquired in 1992 (HP.1992.54) and 1993 (HP.1993.11) as gifts from the estate of Harold D. Walter's wife, Mae Walter. It includes several hundred black and white prints and negatives and 35mm color slides of New Mexico and Colorado landscapes and buildings, governors of New Mexico and other individuals. Also includes a scrap book contaning 8x10 b and w silver gelatin prints, all taken in New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico during the January, 1940 re-creation of the Coronado Expedition for the Coronado Cuarto Centennial, 1540-1940.


  • 1936 - 1958
  • Majority of material found in Placeholder Unit Date Text

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Researchers may examine original material under supervised conditions in the Reading Room upon approval of request.

Copy Restrictions

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

Biographical Information

Harold Dean Walter (1900-1958) (Biographical data taken from notes of an interview with his wife, Mrs. Mae Walter, 25 November 1991, Santa Fe.) Harold Walter was born and grew up primarily in Aspen, Colorado. He lived in various Colorado locations, finally graduating from high school in Aspen. He took a course in auto mechanics in Michigan, but otherwise had no college or professional training. He was primarily self-taught in photography, reading extensively, and preferred to keep it as a hobby even during his most extensive periods of photographic work.

Walter worked at a molybdinum mine in Climax, NM, then for the American Metals Company in Terrero, NM as a Metallurgical Accountant from about 1930-1939. In Terrero he met his future wife, Mae, who was resident school teacher. In about 1939 he was transferred to the American Metals Company mill at Alamitos, near Pecos, NM.

In 1936 Walter took a three month summer course in photography taught by local professionals at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. This course considerably improved his compositional abilities and greatly encouraged his life-long interest in landscape photography. He also learned techniques of photographic composite printing, especially for adding clouds to photos. In 1940 he was appointed photographer for the New Mexico Coronado Cuarto Centennial where he photographed visiting celebrities; these negatives were turned over to William Colvert, Publicity Director for the Commission. He entered the Army in 1942 under a special program to test the military capacity of "older men" for active service. He held up well physically because of his long habit of mountain hiking, but the program was not continued and he was released after three months at its termination. (During this period Mrs. Walter became secretary to Elliott Barker, the New Mexico Game and Fish Commissioner, and continued at that agency for 25 years.)

Walter photographed most of the negatives of Smokey the Bear at his home during this period. He gave the negatives to the US Forest Service after becoming aggravated by repeated requests for prints. From 1943-58 he worked for various New Mexico State Agencies including the highway department; the last agency was the Oil Conservation Office.

According to Mrs. Walter, one of his major accomplishments was causing the US Geological Survey to recognize the inadequacy of evidence for the claim that Truchas Peak was the highest mountain in New Mexico. A formal resurvey showed that Wheeler Peak was actually higher. Walter photographed the survey and several other regional mountains. He called a peak immediately contiguous to Wheeler Peak "Mt. Walter" for personal pleasure. The USGS formalized the name after his death in 1958. He knew several regional photographers well, particularly T. Harmon Parkhurst (with whom he got on especially well), Wyatt Davis and Robert Martin. He knew and photographed several governors and artists (notably copying paintings by Herbert Dunton).He was closely associated with George Fitzpatrick and gave him first choice of his work for New Mexico Magazine, for which he did many covers. He was also a friend of Lorraine Carr. He died in Santa Fe in 1958 of heart and circulatory problems after severe exposure during a storm while hiking in the Pecos Wilderness.


2 Linear Feet

Harold D. Walter Collection, 1936 - 1958
Edited Full Draft
© 2012
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