The American Heritage Center has completed a project to digitize the Charles Belden photographs, one of the AHC’s more prominent collections of photographs and negatives.
Most of the photographs in the collection were take in the 1920s and 1930s on the legendary Pitchfork Ranch near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Located at the base of the Absaroka Mountains, the 250,000-acre ranch provided fertile ground for Belden’s photography. By photographing cowboys and cattle against the dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, he created some of the classic images of the American West. These photographs depict everyday life on the Pitchfork Ranch, Yellowstone National Park, raising antelope, dude ranching, rodeo, and landscapes of Wyoming and the American West.
While interest in (and digitization of) this collection has in the past focused on Belden’s Western images, the collection also contains photographs from Belden’s many travels including trips to Europe, Northern California, and Panama. Belden’s European photographs capture city scenes and landscapes from Germany, Russia, Belgium, and Switzerland, among many other countries. Of particular note in Belden’s photographs from Panama are images of the construction of the Panama Canal.
The collection also contains pleasant surprises, such as photographs of the German zeppelin Hindenberg, which transported antelope from Wyoming to zoos worldwide.
Links to digitized photographs can be found in the online inventory for the collection at: https://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah00598.xml. To browse and search the collection in full, please access the digital collection at: https://digitalcollections.uwyo.edu/luna/servlet/uwydbuwy~23~23.
The digitization of this collection was partially funded by the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, which in 2010 awarded the AHC a $10,000 to digitize over 7,000 images from six of its premier photographic collections. The Charles Belden photographs were the first of the collections scanned from this grant.
–Ben Goldman, Digital Programs Manager