Skip to main content

Guide to Early Photographic Formats and Processes in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Historical Context

Cartes de visite take their name from French “calling cards,” which they were supposedly meant to replace. Measuring 4.5 by 2.5 inches, there were the same size as calling cards but were seldom used as such. Though the process was patented by Andre Adolphe Disderi in Paris in 1854, it did not become popular until 1859.

Cartes de visite were usually produced as albumen prints from wet collodion negatives, but most paper print processes could also be used. A special camera with multiple lenses - as few as four, or more than eight - and a movable plate holder was used to make as many images as possible on a single plate. A contact print was then made, and the individual photographs were cut apart and mounted onto cards. When interest in this small format began to wane, studios introduced larger formats, including cabinet (4.5 x 6.5 inches) and boudoir (5.25 x 8.5 inches). The popularity of card photographs as a format continued into the 20th century, with gelatin and collodion print papers eventually replacing albumen. The backing card stock was often decorated, and people often wrote identifying information directly on the card (Ritzenthaler, et. al., 40-41).

Collections

Cartes de Visite
E.E. Wilson Photographic Collection, 1855-1953
The E. E. Wilson Photographic Collection consists of images of Wilson, a Corvallis native and Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) alum, as well as his family and friends, the OAC campus, Corvallis, and other locations around the Pacific Northwest. The collection also includes images of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and photos of Siletz tribe members.
Box 04 contains a number of cartes de visite (Image #1339-1344, 1346-1349); there are 64 total in the collection.


Presidents of Oregon State University Photographic Collection, circa 1865-1999
The Presidents of Oregon State University Photographic Collection consists of images of Oregon State University presidents from W. A. Finley through Paul Risser from a variety of sources and in various formats, primarily b/w prints. The collection includes multiple images for William Jasper Kerr, George W. Peavy, August L. Strand, and James H. Jensen. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. An example of a cartes de visite can be found in Box-folder 1.02 (Image #003).

Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums, 1875-2000
The Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums consist of images and ephemera assembled by geographical regions. They were acquired and compiled Williams in the course of his work as a Forest Service sociologist and historian and due to his avocational interest in the history of forestry and the history of the United States, especially that of the Pacific Northwest region.  The albums document popular tourist destinations, national parks, the natural environment, prominent natural and architectural landmarks, forests and forest operations, mining, trains and railroads, early towns and cities, prominent citizens, and human activities, such as public events, hunting and fishing, and everyday life. An example of a cartes de visite can be found in Series 34, Box-folder 31.3; subjects are two unidentified women (photographer is Eldowes Brothers of New York).

Harriet’s Photograph Collection, 1868-1980
Harriet's Photograph Collection--named for the first University Archivist, Harriet Moore--is an artificial collection of photographic images documenting a range of Oregon State University programs, activities, and personnel from the institution's founding as Corvallis College in 1868. The collection consists of about 25 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives (approximately 30,000 items) dating from the late 19th century through the 20th century. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. The single cartes de visite in this collection can be found in Box 53 (Image #HC3400); image is of J.A. Biddle and A.L. Biddle taken at Beers in New Haven, Connecticut.

Cabinet
Edward C. Allworth Photograph Collection, circa 1880s
The Edward C. Allworth Photograph Collection consists of family photos - some formal and some casual - taken by photographers based in Europe and Canada. The collection is comprised of ten cartes de visites (Box 01), nine cabinet cards (Box 01), eighteen prints of various types and one hand-colored tintype. Several of the studio images included in the collection bear the marks of professional photographers based in Glasgow, Paris and Toronto. While most of the images are studio portraits, the collection does include a handful of candid photos and landscape images.


Presidents of Oregon State University Photographic Collection, circa 1865-1999
The Presidents of Oregon State University Photographic Collection consists of images of Oregon State University presidents from W. A. Finley through Paul Risser from a variety of sources and in various formats, primarily b/w prints. The collection includes multiple images for William Jasper Kerr, George W. Peavy, August L. Strand, and James H. Jensen. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.  An example of a cabinet card can be found in
Box-folder 1.8 (Image #103).

Ray Stout Photograph Collection, 1895-1940
The Ray Stout Photograph Collection consists of portrait photographs of Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) students and faculty assembled by Stout during his student years at OAC in the 1900s. Stout graduated from OAC in 1905 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Images from this colleciton have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. The cabinet card in this collection can be found in Box 01 (Image #28b); subject is Margaret Snell, the first professor of Household Economy and Hygiene at Corvallis College in 1889.

Boudoir

Harriet's Photograph Collection, 1868-1980
Harriet's Photograph Collection--named for the first University Archivist, Harriet Moore--is an artificial collection of photographic images documenting a range of Oregon State University programs, activities, and personnel from the institution's founding as Corvallis College in 1868. The collection consists of about 25 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives (approximately 30,000 items) dating from the late 19th century through the 20th century. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. Images HC024, 596, 601, and 612 - in Boxes 03, 18, 19, and 20, respectively - are boudoir cards.

Oregon State University Historical Photographs, 1868-1980
The Oregon State University Historical Photographs Collection is an artificial collection comprised of images gathered from multiple sources. The collection provides visual documentation for a number of noteworthy individuals, activities and events dotting the history of Oregon State University for nearly one century. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. Boudoir cards can be found in Box 1 (Images #1-5) and Box 04 (Images #1554, 1561).

Alice Kidder Evans Photograph Collection, 1889-1919
The Alice Kidder Evans Photograph Collection consists of photographs assembled by Alice Kidder Evans and her father Andrew Kidder. Most of the images depict Oregon Agricultural College buildings and students. Andrew Kidder attended OAC from 1893 to 1896; his daughter Alice graduated from OAC in 1924. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. Boudoir cards can be found in Box 01 (Images #6-10).


Betty Kerr Photographs, 1890-1893
The Betty Kerr Photographs depict campus and community life at Oregon Agricultural College in the early 1890s. Betty Kerr is the widow of Robert Kerr, a son of former Oregon Agricultural College President William Jasper Kerr. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. Boudoir cards are found in Box 01 (Image #002-003, 005-008, and 010-011).