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Boosting The West

June 2024
1min read

The Wyoming photographer Joseph Stimson proudly portrayed his region in the years when it was emerging from rude frontier beginnings

In a career lasting almost sixty years, Joseph Stimson promoted Wyoming and other Western states in strong and spirited photographs. He was not the West’s first photographer, nor its most artistic, but his work perfectly expressed the optimism and belief in progress of this area in the early twentieth century.

Stimson started as a portrait photographer in 1889 and was later hired by the Union Pacific Railroad to publicize its huge, costly operation. He went on to take promotional pictures for businesses and industries, and to boost tourism for the state. When he died in 1952, Wyoming’s State Archives, Museums and Historical Department bought all his 7,500 existing photographs—most of them from glass-plate negatives. Mark Junge has selected 227 of them for his forthcoming J. E. Stimson: Photographer of the West , from which our portfolio is drawn. The book will be published soon by the University of Nebraska Press.


To promote the railroad, Stimson produced an album of pictures recording the growth of the whole region.
Simson’s motives were commercial, but in photographing people or buildings his artfulness was extraordinary.
His more intimate views showed the materials, processes, and stages by which the West was built.

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