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Historic Photograph Collection of Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Identifier: Coll 0018

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

Contains prints in a wide variety of sizes and conditions. In the case of the Historic Photograph Files, 4 x 5" prints were often cropped, then pasted onto NPS negative envelopes or photocards. Negative envelope contains both the negative and any additional prints of the image. There are also print file cards interspersed in this collection, but for the most part they do not have Chaco negative numbers. These may have come from the Regional Office or the Southwest Archaeological Center. There are no negatives for these images. A small portion of the collection includes pre-1950s negatives, presumed to be nitrates. These were examined by a photograph conservator, Sarah Wagner, during the NPS Cold Storage Initiative packing project in March 2008, and were deemed stable enough to be filed with the other negatives and put in cold storage. Images are cataloged at the item level and scanned at 150 dpi. 8X10 prints of some images are housed in a photo album in negative number order.


  • 1903-1976 (bulk dates: 1941-1970)


Biographical / Historical


The Historic Photograph Files were constructed over time by park staff, and most of the photographs appear to have been taken by park staff. The range of topics include Visitor Center museum exhibits, park biology, park infrastructure, natural and manmade disasters (flooding, the fall of Threatening Rock, road washouts, pipeline breaks, vehicular accidents), erosion control efforts, park archaeology, NPS Visitor Center and residence construction, and New Mexico images.

At some point, this collection of historic photographs was moved from the Visitor Center to the Collection Storage Building in the park for eventual inclusion in the museum collection. In 2002, Joyce Raab, Archivist, and Dave Six, Volunteer Photographer, moved the collection from small metal drawer cabinets to filing cabinets with card sized drawers. They determined the original order to be the Photograph Filing System for Region Three of the National Park Service, dated February 1958. As originally devised, this filing system was envisioned with all negatives, filed numerically, kept in the Region Three Office. In addition, print file cards were also to be stored at the Region Three Office and filed according to numerical classification codes based on subject, as determined by the Dewey decimal filing system. However, many superintendents preferred to retain negatives and print file cards of their areas in their own files. It is unknown if Coll 0018/001 was ever stored in the regional office. By the time it made its way to the museum collection, it had been housed at the park for a significant period of time.

A copy of the NPS Region Three Photograph Filing System, with the Subject Class Numbers used by the NPS, is filed in the accession folder. The numbers used by the NPS differ somewhat from the modern Dewey Decimal System numbers. It appears that negative numbers were assigned first, and then the images were assigned Classification Codes based on the Dewey decimal system, then sorted by the codes and then by negative number. In most cases, the creator eliminated the print file card by pasting a print on the back of the negative envelope. Cataloging and data entry notes: For this collection, the NPS Subject Classification Number is recorded in the Associated Materials field as a number than can be sorted. The Physical Description field is used to record the location where the image was taken (i.e., Visitor Center, Pueblo Bonito) and the "purpose" of the image, if that information is available. The Physical Characteristics field contains information, if known, about whether or not there is a Safety Negative and where the photocard, if any, is housed. The Summary Notes field tallies the different formats of the image.


6384 items

Language of Materials




Organized into the following series that have been identified as the major categories of images in this collection; For data management purposes, the Classification Code will be entered in the Associated CHCU 83193 3 Material field for each item record: Series .001: 069 Museum Science Images Series .002: 300 Social & Economic Images Series .003: 500-550 Earth Science Images Series .004: 571 Archaeology Images Series .005: 580-599 Biology Images Series .006: 600-700 Engineering & Architecture Images Series .007: 900 History of New Mexico Images Series .008: Miscellaneous Images by Year. This last series was added at the end of the collection by the users, but Classification Codes were never assigned.

The original order remains the structural arrangement of this collection. Negatives have been removed and stored in the Negative Collection, in negative number order. Prints, print file cards, and negative envelopes with affixed prints remain filed first by the numerical Classification Codes and then by the negative number, and stored in photo cabinets.



Chaco Canyon National Monument/Chaco Culture National Historical Park staff, volunteers.
Finding Aid for Historic Photograph Collection, Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Coll 0018
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, National Park Service
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the NPS Chaco Culture NHP Repository

Hibben Center
Hibben Center Rm 306 - MSC01 1050
450 University Blvd NE
Albuquerque NM 87106 USA