Cased photographs collection

Portrait of unidentified woman, C. C. Beeker family Portrait of David Averill, circa 1845 Portrait of Martha Ann Averill Exterior of case containing portrait of Martha Ann Averill Portrait of Mrs. Buemont, aunt of Samuel Asahel Clarke, circa 1845 Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. James Cockran, circa 1850 Portrait of David Cockran, circa 1850 Portrait of Alphonso B. Averill, circa 1854 Portrait of sisters Mrs. H. H. Angell and Mrs. James Crosby, circa 1862 Portrait of Henry H. Angell Exterior of case containing portrait of Henry H. Angell Portrait of unidentified man, Buckingham family, circa 1850 Portrait of unidentified woman, Buckingham family Portrait of Samuel Asahel Clarke, circa 1853 Portrait of Mrs. Lucinda Sumner Hadlock and 2 children Portrait of Susan Bosworth Taylor and Fred Ramsay, circa 1850 Portrait of unidentified woman, connected with the H.E. Pribble Family, circa 1858 Portrait of Henrietta Leaver Nichol, circa 1852 Portrait of Frank W. Plympton Portrait of Anna D. Kikendall, circa 1850 Portrait of James Howe, Bishop of South Carolina Portrait of Malcolm and Zenas Ferry Moody Portrait of Ephraim Pope Portrait of Susan Morrill Portrait of Henrietta Leaver Averill-Johnson Portrait of Reverend Hezekiah Johnson and wife Eliza Shepard Johnson Exterior of case containing portrait of Reverend Hezekiah Johnson and wife Eliza Shepard Johnson Portrait of Sarah Pope, circa 1853
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Identity elements

Reference code

Org. Lot 1414

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Cased photographs collection


  • 1840-2005 (Creation)


Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Collection consists of approximately 630 cased photographs, consisting primarily of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and cased and uncased tintypes (also called ferrotypes) dating from approximately 1840-1900. Also represented in this collection are less common cased image formats, including photographs on milk glass (opalotypes), collodion positives on fabric (pannotypes), Orotypes (goldtypes), cased card photographs, and photo buttons.

The photographs are primarily studio portraits of people, both individuals and groups. The majority of the people depicted had some connection to Oregon or the American West, though the photographs themselves may have been taken elsewhere. The photographs also include depictions of early Oregon street and residential scenes. The identities of the depicted individuals, photographers, and studios are documented in the condition reports for materials in this collection when known.

The collection also includes records and condition reports about many, but not all, of the photographs. These documents provide details about people or places depicted in the images; material types; condition of the images; any conservation care performed; and any known provenance. Condition reports are also included for images in a separate collection, Org. Lot 2, the William Lair Hill family photographs collection, also held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

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Conditions governing access

Physical access

Cased photographs are not available for direct access due to fragility. Researchers are asked to use digitized copies. Digital copies of case exteriors and interiors may be available upon request. Contact staff for assistance.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Materials in this collection are in the public domain.

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Notes element

General note

Cased photographs are among the earliest forms of commercially available photography. Cased photographs were common in the mid-19th century and feature a photograph mounted in a shallow, hinged box, which was commonly made from leather, cloth, or composite thermoplastic (known as union cases) and lined in velvet. The most common early photographic processes, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, were fragile mediums and the cases provided protection for the photographs. More stable later formats, particularly tintypes and cabinet photographs, were also sometimes cased throughout the later half of the 19th century.

Daguerreotypes were the earliest form of cased photograph. This technique was in common use from 1839 to the early 1860s. Daguerreotypes are made on a silver-coated copper plate developed using mercury fumes. They have a distinctive reflective surface with a laterally reversed image. Daguerreotypes were commonly topped with a glass plate and sealed to protect the photographic surface.

Ambrotypes were in common use from 1854 to the mid-1870s. They are made on glass using a wet-collodion process and backed with a dark finish to give the appearance of a positive photograph. Ambrotypes were commonly hand-tinted and mounted in a hinged case.

Tintypes (ferrotypes) were in common use from 1856 to the 1930s. They are made on a black varnished metal base, typically iron, using a wet-collodion process. Tintypes create a direct-positive photograph that is lighter in weight and more durable than previous formats. They were commonly cased, but are also often found in paper mats or uncased.

General note

Online collection contains a selection of items from the full collection. More information about the full collection can be found here:

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Cased photographs collection, Org. Lot 1414, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

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