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Simeon Schwemberger Photograph Albums Collection

Identifier: PICT-2016-003

Scope and Content

Six (6) photograph albums with captioned or identified photographs by Simeon Schwemberger of Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona, including views of people, places and events, particularly around St. Michaels, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico, in the years 1905-1910.

Schwemberger photographed individuals and family groups of Native Americans, capturing details of dress, jewelry and other objects. Portraits of Navajos appear in three albums, and are represented with the greatest number of prints, not surprising given that St. Michaels Mission is located on the Navajo reservation in Arizona very close to the New Mexico border. Also represented are Acoma, Cochiti, Hopi, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna and Zuni Indians. There are a number of series presenting foot and other races, chicken pulls, feast days and trade between tribal groups. Businesses and events, such as the July 29, 1910 flood in Gallup are represented. Along with views of people, there are settlement views of Pueblos, natural wonders and buildings.

The albums are broadly grouped by Native American tribe or event, and there is some duplication of photographic prints between albums and within albums. Four albums (#1-4) are in identical black alligator skin-like covers, and the fifth and sixth (#5-6) are slightly larger with a brown calf textured leather cover. Photographs are pasted on both sides of album pages and most have typewritten labels or handwritten captions. Most of the prints appear to be gelatin prints (developing out prints, based on visible silvering) or albumen prints; all are presumed to be made from Schwemberger’s glass plate negatives. Most prints are 4.5x6.5".

Album 6 was acquired separately, and adds additional images of Navajos along with expanding representation of Native Americans to include Hopi (called Moqui in the image captions), along with views of Four Corners canyons, and the Hubble trading post. The album pages in were bound so that the the viewer could begin from the back or front of the album. This along with the fact that captions were written in both pen and pencil may indicate the volume is not in its original configuration. CSWR staff has re-oriented the pages so that they can be viewed sequentially from front to back of the album. In this album, 3 pages have written captions, but the photographs are missing.


  • 1902-1911
  • Majority of material found within 1905-1910

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. Researchers must use gloves when handling the albums.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


Simeon Schwemberger was a Franciscan brother who came to St. Michaels, Arizona in 1902, was briefly active as a photographer in Arizona and New Mexico, and after he left St. Michaels Mission, worked as a trading post manager until his death in 1931.

Born George Charles Schwemberger, in 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio, he took Franciscan vows in 1901 and began his service as Brother Simeon at St. Michaels Mission in 1902. While working as a cook and handyman, Schwemberger began to experiment with the photographic equipment owned by the Mission. He photographed people at St. Michaels, including many portraits of the Navajo in that community, Native Americans elsewhere in New Mexico, and townspeople, places and events in Gallup. Prints of his photographs are frequently stamped with a copyright notice, date, and the name "Sim Schwemberger".

He left the Order in 1909 to establish a photography studio in Gallup, New Mexico. He brought with him the photographic equipment and glass plates from the Mission, producing additonal photographic albums and postcards. The studio was closed in 1911, but Schwemberger may have continued to sell prints as a trading post manager, working for the Hubble’s in Ganado, Arizona and J.B. Moore's in Crystal, New Mexico. Sim Schwemberger died in Gallup in 1931.


304 items (2 boxes) : 6 albums with 304 photographic prints ; most prints 4.5 x 6.5 in.

Language of Materials



Six (6) photograph albums with captioned or identified photographs by Simeon Schwemberger of Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona, including views of people, places and events, particularly around St. Michaels, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico, in the years 1905-1910.


The Schwemberger photographs are arranged into 6 series, reflecting the grouping of photographs into albums for viewing and sale in what is presumed to be original organization by Schwemberger himself.
  1. Album 1. Navajo images with a few Pueblo images (46 photographs)
  2. Album 2. Laguna, Zuni, Acoma, Isleta images (49 photographs)
  3. Album 3. Gallup business and events images (46 photographs)
  4. Album 4. Jemez, Navajo images (48 photographs)
  5. Album 5. Navajos, animals, Window Rock, St. Michaels, trading posts images (75 photographs)
  6. Album 6. Navajos, Hopis, canyons, ruins, and trading post images (40 photographs)

Collection Available Online

Some photographs in the Schwemberger Photograph Albums collection are available in digital format from New Mexico's Digital Collections.

Processing Information

Albums 1 - 5 comprise the original 2016 accession. At this time, the albums were boxed and interleaved.

Album 6 was acquired and processed in 2018, when upside down pages were righted.
Finding Aid of the Simeon Schwemberger Photograph Albums Collection, 1902-1911
Edited Full Draft
Schwemberger, Simeon
© 2017, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

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

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131