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William E. Colby Memorial Library

Online Collections: Historical Photo Collections

Sierra Club 1928 High Trip Photo Album
Sierra Club's William E. Colby Memorial Library brings you this virtual exhibit of a rare photo album in our collection. The album includes original Ansel Adams prints of photos taken on the Sierra Club "high trip" of 1928. That year, the Club's annual summer outing took members to the Canadian Rockies. They brought back memories and photographs, fifty of which were collected in this unique album and presented to trip leader, William E. Colby, as a special gift. All fifty images were printed in 1928 by Ansel Adams from negatives; 34 are his own images, and 16 images are from negatives made by three other photographers.

John Muir Collection
Photos of John Muir by various photographers.

Joseph N. LeConte Collection
LeConte (1870-1950), son of Sierra Club charter member Joseph LeConte (1823-1901), a professor of geology and natural history at UC Berkeley. Joseph N. LeConte, known as "Little Joe," was also to become a University of California professor of mechanical engineering. He made his first photographs of Yosemite in 1889 where he later married his longtime mountaineering companion Helen Marion Gompertz (1865-1924), a teacher and charter member of the Club. LeConte has the distinction of having been elected the first Sierra Club president after the death of John Muir in 1914. In addition to his duties as the Club's High Trip photographer he served on the Sierra Club Board of Directors for 42 years (1898-1940) and was treasurer for 29. In the late 1940s Ansel Adams, who revered LeConte's photography, printed, for the Sierra Club, an edition of four volumes of LeConte's remarkable photography of Yosemite and the High Sierra.

Edward Taylor Parsons Collection
Edward Taylor Parsons (1861-1914) served as William E. Colby's outing assistant, and High Trip photographer from 1901 until his death in 1914. He and his wife, Marion Randall Parsons, an accomplished painter, also participated in the production of the Sierra Club Bulletin. Characteristics of Parson's work are his panoramic photographs, so instrumental in the preservation of national parks and forests as well as in the promotion of Sierra Club's outing program. The library is fortunate to hold over 2000 of Parsons' original negatives. As an exemplary Sierra Club volunteer, Parsons, elected to the Club in 1900, was a member of both the outing committee and the Board of Directors. His obituary states that in his "unflagging devotion to the lost cause of Hetch Hetchy, he paid a heavy price in strength and health as well as in time and money."

Cedric Wright Collection
Cedric Wright (1889-1959), music teacher, violinist, and one of the most significant Sierra Club outing photographers, turned to photography in his middle years. On one of his 1930s High Trips he met and befriended Ansel Adams and they remained close friends thereafter. Many of Adams' well known Sierra photographs were taken in Wright's company. In 1960, after Wright's death, Sierra Club Books published Words of the Earth as a memorial to this outstanding photographer who contributed so much of his talent as a Sierra Club volunteer. The book, edited by Nancy Newhall, was dedicated to William E. Colby, and has a forward by Ansel Adams.

For inquiries about these images contact the Colby Library by email or at 415-977-5506.

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