Andrew J. Russell

Last updated

Andrew J. Russell
Andrew russell photographer.jpg
Portrait of Russell, unknown photographer
Born(1829-03-20)March 20, 1829
DiedSeptember 22, 1902(1902-09-22) (aged 73)
Known for American Civil War
Union Pacific Railroad

Andrew Joseph Russell (March 20, 1829 September 22, 1902) was an American photographer of the American Civil War and the Union Pacific Railroad. [1] Russell photographed construction of the Union Pacific (UP) in 1868 and 1869.


Early life

Andrew J. Russell was born March 20, 1829, [2] in Walpole, New Hampshire, as the son of Harriet (née Robinson) and Joseph Russell. He was raised in Nunda, New York. He took an early interest in painting and executed portraits and landscapes for family members and for local public figures.

The Civil War

General John S. Casement and His Outfit (1867-8; during construction of the UP Railroad) Captain Andrew Joseph Russell - General John S. Casement and His Outfit - Google Art Project.jpg
General John S. Casement and His Outfit (1867-8; during construction of the UP Railroad)

During the first two years of the Civil War, Russell painted a diorama used to recruit soldiers for the Union Army. On August 22, 1862, he volunteered at Elmira, New York, mustering in the following month as Captain in Company F, 141st New York Volunteer Regiment. In February 1863, Russell took an interest in photography and paid civilian photographer Egbert Guy Fowx $300 to teach him the collodion wet-plate process. [2] Fowx was a free-lance photographer who worked both for photographer Mathew Brady and for the United States Department of War.

Russell took his first photographs with a camera that he borrowed from Fowx and Colonel Herman Haupt. Haupt used Russell's photographs to illustrate his reports. Haupt arranged to have Russell removed from his regiment on March 1, 1863, so that he could photograph for the United States Military Railroad and the Quartermaster Corps, until he mustered out in September 1865. [2] Russell was the only military officer to photograph for the War Department during the American Civil War. He is perhaps best known for "Confederate dead Behind the Stone Wall" and another photograph stated before taken during the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863.

Transcontinental Railroad

The Dale Creek Crossing under construction. Dale Creek Bridge Union Pacific Railroad Company by Andrew J Russell.jpg
The Dale Creek Crossing under construction.
Russell photograph of the "Engineers of U.P.R.R. at the Laying of Last Rail Promentory" H69.459.2026 13AR 3860 F2-UPRR-civil engineers.png
Russell photograph of the "Engineers of U.P.R.R. at the Laying of Last Rail Promentory"
The ceremony for the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869. East west shaking hands by russell.jpg
The ceremony for the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869.

Russell photographed the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad in Wyoming and Utah Territories during 1868, as their official photographer. He published these photographs in numerous forms, including as an album with 50 tipped in albumen prints and accompanying text: The Great West Illustrated in a Series of Photographic Views Across the Continent Taken Along the Line of the Union Pacific Railroad, West from Omaha, Nebraska. With an Annotated Table of Contents, Giving a Brief Description of Each View; Its Peculiarities, Characteristics, and Connection with the Different Points on the Road. His training as a painter provided the foundation for this series of views, which laid out the promise of the western landscape. While some of the images were truly romantic evocations of the West, others depicted construction sites or inhospitable landscapes; only the captions could remind viewers of the "finest trout" in the rivers or the "luxurious growth of grass, wild rye, barley" that might feed future inhabitants. [3] This album, like others of its time, perpetuated the notion of Manifest Destiny, and the accompanying erasure of Native American presence; Native Americans do not appear in this album, which viewed the West as a "tabula rasa" upon with the country's future could be built. [3]

In 1869 he returned to Utah Territory to photograph the completion of the First transcontinental railroad, or "golden spike" on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. [4] for this work, Russell used his single-view camera. [5] Russell took five group portraits that day, at least two were "...sent to New York as news pictures and arrived in time to be copied by engravers for the front page of the June 5 issue of Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper." [5] These photographs and others have value today "... principally as sources for the identification of persons." [5] One photograph shows a rank of sixteen men under the title "Engineers of U.P.R.R. at the Laying of Last Rail Promentory (sic)." [5] This famous photograph of the meeting of the rails, celebrated the joining of East and West, the reduction of a perilous 6 month wagon journey across the US to one that would take a mere 6 days, yet did not include any of the 11,000 Chinese laborers who had laid the tracks across the Sierra Nevada and the desert and into Utah. [6]

This ceremony marked the end of Russell's tenure as the official photographer of the Union Pacific railroad, a position he had taken after filling the same post for the Union Army during the Civil War. [4] By 1869 he had in fact

"...labored for nearly two years to produce over 200 full plate (10" x 13") images and over 500 stereo cards. In general, Russell's work partook in the company's general effort to heroicize its own undertaking — an early form of advertising." [4]

Later that year he traveled to California to photograph locations on the Central Pacific Railroad and returned to New York City at the end of 1869.

Later career

In New York, Russell established a design studio and worked as a photojournalist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper through the early 1890s. [1]

Personal life

On October 17, 1850, Russell married Catherine Adelia Duryee, daughter of Lanah (née Conklin) and William Reynex Duryee. They had two daughters, Cora Phillips and Harriet M. Russell. Russell's fragmented family life is evidenced by the fact that he does not appear with them on any census record, save in 1860. His wife and daughters made their home in Minnesota and Illinois. Russell lived on Logan Street in Brooklyn, New York, where he died, September 22, 1902. [7]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden spike</span> Ceremonial 17.6-karat gold final spike driven in the US First Transcontinental Railroad

The golden spike is the ceremonial 17.6-karat gold final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States connecting the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento and the Union Pacific Railroad from Omaha on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. The term last spike has been used to refer to one driven at the usually ceremonial completion of any new railroad construction projects, particularly those in which construction is undertaken from two disparate origins towards a common meeting point. The spike is now displayed in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mathew Brady</span> American photographer (c. 1823 – 1896)

Mathew B. Brady was an American photographer. Known as one of the earliest and most famous photographers in American history, he is best known for his scenes of the Civil War. He studied under inventor Samuel Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. Brady opened his own studio in New York City in 1844, and went on to photograph U.S. presidents John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Van Buren, among other public figures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Photographers of the American Civil War</span>

The American Civil War was the most widely covered conflict of the 19th century. The images would provide posterity with a comprehensive visual record of the war and its leading figures, and make a powerful impression on the populace. Something not generally known by the public is the fact that roughly 70% of the war's documentary photography was captured by the twin lenses of a stereo camera. The American Civil War was the first war in history whose intimate reality would be brought home to the public, not only in newspaper depictions, album cards and cartes-de-visite, but in a popular new 3D format called a "stereograph," "stereocard" or "stereoview." Millions of these cards were produced and purchased by a public eager to experience the nature of warfare in a whole new way.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carleton Watkins</span> American photographer (1829–1916)

Carleton E. Watkins (1829–1916) was an American photographer of the 19th century. Born in New York, he moved to California and quickly became interested in photography. He focused mainly on landscape photography, and Yosemite Valley was a favorite subject of his. His photographs of the valley significantly influenced the United States Congress' decision to preserve it as a National Park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Henry Jackson</span> American photographer and painter (1843–1942)

William Henry Jackson was an American photographer, Civil War veteran, painter, and an explorer famous for his images of the American West. He was a great-great nephew of Samuel Wilson, the progenitor of America's national symbol Uncle Sam. He was the great-grandfather of cartoonist Bill Griffith, creator of Zippy the Pinhead comics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Gardner (photographer)</span> Scottish photographer (1821–1882)

Alexander Gardner was a Scottish photographer who immigrated to the United States in 1856, where he began to work full-time in that profession. He is best known for his photographs of the American Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, and of the conspirators and the execution of the participants in the Lincoln assassination plot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Roscoe Savage</span> American photographer

Charles Roscoe Savage was a British-born landscape and portrait photographer most notable for his images of the American West. Savage converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his youth while living in England. He served a mission in Switzerland and eventually moved to the United States. In America he became interested in photography and began taking portraits for hire in the East. He traveled to Salt Lake City with his family and opened up his Art Bazar where he sold many of his photographs. Savage concentrated his photographic efforts primarily on family portraits, landscapes, and documentary views. He is best known for his 1869 photographs of the linking of the First transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">War photography</span> Photographic documentation of wars

War photography involves photographing armed conflict and its effects on people and places. Photographers who participate in this genre may find themselves placed in harm's way, and are sometimes killed trying to get their pictures out of the war arena.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timothy H. O'Sullivan</span> American photographer (1840–1882)

Timothy H. O'Sullivan was an American photographer widely known for his work related to the American Civil War and the Western United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Felice Beato</span> Italian-British photographer (1832–1909)

Felice Beato, also known as Felix Beato, was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels gave him the opportunity to create images of countries, people, and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. His work provides images of such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War, and represents the first substantial body of photojournalism. He influenced other photographers, and his influence in Japan, where he taught and worked with numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Karl Hillers</span> American photographer

John Karl Hillers was an American government photographer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Samuel C. Mills</span>

Samuel C. Mills was an American photographer, Civil War veteran, and a D.C. judge. He is best known for his 1858 photographs from along the Oregon Trail and California Trail.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hezekiah Bissell</span> American railroad engineer (1835–1928)

Hezekiah Bissell was a nineteenth century American railroad engineer, civil engineer, and railroad maintenance of way manager for a number of railroads in the Northeastern United States, including the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, Eastern Railroad of Massachusetts, and the Boston & Maine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Jay Haynes</span> American photographer (1853–1921)

Frank Jay Haynes, known as F. Jay or "the Professor" to almost all who knew him, was a professional photographer, publisher, and entrepreneur from Minnesota who played a major role in documenting through photographs the settlement and early history of the Northwestern United States. He became both the official photographer of the Northern Pacific Railway and of Yellowstone National Park as well as operating early transportation concessions in the park. His photographs were widely published in articles, journals, and books, and turned into stereographs and postcards in the late 19th and early 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William H. Rau</span>

William Herman Rau was an American photographer who was active primarily in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best remembered for his stereo cards of sites around the world, and for his panoramic photographs of sites along the Pennsylvania Railroad.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Corky Lee</span> American photographer (1947–2021)

Young Corky Lee was a Chinese-American activist, community organizer, photographer, journalist, and the self-proclaimed unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate. He called himself an "ABC from NYC ... wielding a camera to slay injustices against APAs." His work chronicled and explored the diversity and nuances of Asian American culture often ignored and overlooked by mainstream media, striving to make Asian American history a part of American history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Benecke</span>

Robert Benecke was a German-born American photographer, operating primarily out of St. Louis in the latter half of the 19th century. Along with portraits, his works included photographs of railroads, bridges, buildings, and steamboats. He received considerable acclaim for his exhibit at the 1869 St. Louis Fair, and was among the earliest Americans to experiment with the artotype process in the early 1870s. He later turned to dry plate manufacturing, and worked as an editor for the St. Louis and Canadian Photographer in the 1890s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James A. Evans</span>

James Armstrong Evans (1827-1887) was a British-born civil engineer who was part of the effort to build the Union Pacific railroad to Promontory Point, Utah in 1869. Evans was present at the Golden spike ceremony on May 10, 1869, connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. Evans was also in the Russell photograph of the same date

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Moran (photographer)</span> British born American photographer (1831-1902)

John Moran was a pioneering American photographer and artist. Moran was a prominent landscape, architectural, astronomical and expedition photographer whose career began in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area during the 1860s.


  1. 1 2 "Andrew J. Russell Stereograph Catalog". Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum. (Bruce C. Cooper, et al). August 15, 2006. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Williams, Susan E. (2002). "Richmond Again Taken: Reappraising the Brady Legend through Photographs by A. J. Russell". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Vol. 110, no. 4. pp. 437–460.
  3. 1 2 Sandweiss, Martha A. (2002). Print the legend : photography and the American West. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN   0-300-09522-8. OCLC   49760608.
  4. 1 2 3 Lowry, Richard (1989). "Iron frames: Reconstructing the landscape views of A. J. Russell's photography". Nineteenth-Century Contexts. Vol. 13, no. 1. pp. 41–66. doi:10.1080/08905498908583296.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Pattison, William D. (1962). "The Pacific Railroad Rediscovered". Geographical Review. Vol. 52, no. 1. pp. 25–36.
  6. "A 'photographic act of justice' for Chinese laborers at Golden Spike". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  7. New York death index; certificate #17021.

Further reading