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Using Images and Primary Source Collections: Grand Canyon and the Colorado River

The Grand Canyon and the Colorado River lie at the heart of the collecting focus of the Cline Library's Special Collection and Archives, with literally dozens of collections and many thousand of photographs available in the Digital Archives.

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How to search the Digital Archive to find more material


How to Use Arizona Archive Online to find more primary source material housed in Special Collections and Archives

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Images and Imagery of the Canyon

 Below are links to some digital primary source materials available at Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives that illustrate and highlight the variety of connections people from an array of backgrounds have made with the Grand Canyon over time.  These are not SCA's only collection relating to Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. In fact, these are a mere sample of material housed in the archives. While there is ample overlap between the image creators, the list below is largely in chronological order, from oldest to most recent. Also included are recent virtual exhibits which help provide context to these materials and relationships. Use these resources to acquaint yourself with this region, and use them as a way to begin to explore the collections housed here.


Emory Kolb: Still images; moving images


Kolb was the first professional photographer at the Canyon, and made a living selling images of the canyon, and images of tourists' trips into the canyon on mules. Kolb's images (and motion pictures) are literally the earliest images of the canyon, and the longest lived, spanning a career that lasted into the 1970s.

Fred Harvey Company: Still images                                                                                                                        


The Fred Harvey Company was the first corporate entity at the Canyon, providing first class food service and lodging for the first generation of Canyon tourists. Their images are rich in southwestern imagery and came to define the region for tourists. The Fred Harvey Company was the focus of SCA's 2015 exhibit:"Fred Harvey: Branding the Southwest".

Florence Barker: Still images


Florence Barker came from a missionary family based in Flagstaff who became a nurse (at a hospital/school in Denver), and spent her entire career as a public health nurse on the Navajo, Supai and Acoma reservations. Her images reflect a side of deep canyon life rarely seen by outsiders.

Joseph Muench: Still images.


Joseph Muench was a consummate professional photographer whose well-crafted images define the scenic west. Muench's images were featured in Arizona Highways magazine for decades. Muench was the focus of SCA's 2005 exhibit: "Joseph Muench". 

Bill Belknap: Still images.


Bill Belnap was a commercial photographer based out of Boulder City, Nevada, and his images of the Canyon appeared in many publications including National Geographic. His images are unique in that they more often reflect the western canyon. Belknap was the subject of SCA's 1998 exhibit:"Bill Belknap: Photographer".

Margaret Eiseman: Still images.


Fred and Margaret Eiseman (of Tucson) were early participants and employees of commercial Colorado River guides in the 1950s and 1960s with both Georgie Clark and Mexican Hat Expeditions before launching their own commercial (42-day!) river trips in the early 1970s. Their images reflect river life across this three decades, and their interests in flora, fauna, geology and hiking within the canyon. They used their images as sources in lectures and presentations.

Katie Lee: Still images


Amongst all of the fascinating parts of Katie Lee's life as actress, folk singer, environmentalist, activist and author, her love of the Colorado River was an anchor. While Grand Canyon was not her favorite art of the river- her enthusiasm for the broader environment, and the river environment are apparent. Katie Lee is the focus of SCA's current physical and digital exhibit: "Full Circle: The Life and Legacies of Katie Lee". 

Mary K. Allen: Still images


These photographs (slides and born-digital photographs) illustrate Allen's explorations of the rock art left by the Indigenous peoples, including the Ancestral Puebloans, who inhabited the western United States, particularly the Colorado Plateau- in this case within the confines of Grand Canyon.

Harvey Butchart: Still images.


Harvey Butchart was a member of the Mathematics Faculty at NAU, and the faculty advisor to NAU's oldest student organization- the Hiking Club. These images document Butchart's many miles and hiking trails taken through the Grand Canyon.

John Running: Still images.


John Running was a commercial Flagstaff-based photographer. The Grand Canyon appears as the backdrop to many of his thematic shoots. John Running was the focus of SCA's exhihit: "Offerings to the Gods of Light and Shadow". 


Other Voices (writings and oral histories):

Ada Bass: Diary

Carnegie-Cal Tech ExpeditionDoggerel Log of a Canyon Trip”                                        


Emery Kolb: Diary

Zane Grey: Diary

El Tovar HotelImpressions of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon-related Oral histories.