Orrin Sage Wightman photographs and papers
Language of Materials
The collection contains photographic prints, celluloid negatives, glass negatives, lantern slides, autochromes, glass stereographs and viewer, assorted small notebooks, manuscript materials, and a draft of his published account of the trip to Russia. It documents Russia and the Far East in World War I and the Russian Revolution, the medical profession in New York City between the 1890s and 1910s, Central Park and downtown New York scenes, and one New York family's activities and vacations during the early part of the twentieth century
Orrin Sage Wightman (1873-1965) was born and raised in New York City. He received a B.A. and a M. D. from New York University in 1895 and 1898, respectively. In 1905, Wightman married Purl Parker and they had two children, Julia Parker and Orrin Sage Jr.
Wightman, an internist, practiced medicine in New York City and was active in many medical organizations. He practiced at Gouverneur, City, and New York Polyclinic Hospitals, among others. In 1923 he served as president of the New York County Medical Society and the organization awarded him a gold medal for achievement in 1965. He was president of the Medical Society of the State of New York in 1925. From 1925 to 1934 Wightman was editor in chief of the New York State Journal of Medicine. He also served as chairman of the New York State Medical Grievance Committee. Wightman was an active member in the New York Academy of Medicine as well, founded its medical information bureau in 1928 and received from that organization an award of outstanding service in 1952. He also served as chairman of the board from 1946 until his death.
During World War I, Wightman served as a major in the United States Army Medical Corps, and in 1917 went on an American Red Cross medical mission to Russia. The mission began by boat from Vancouver, B.C. to Japan, and continued by train through China and Mongolia to Russia and finally Romania. Wightman photographed his activities on this trip, and when he returned to the United States he spoke to the press and to many church groups and clubs about his experiences, on behalf of the new Soviet Union and about America's potential relationship to the country. His photographs were available for purchase, but were never officially published. In 1928, Wightman published Diary of an American Physician in the Russian Revolution in 1917, a written account of his trip through Russia
Throughout his life Wightman traveled throughout the United States and Europe, and photographically documented these trips. He built the first seven cameras he owned and continued to be interested in photographic technology. He was a member of the Royal Photographic Society and an honorary member of the Photographic Society of America. In 1955, he published Early Days of Coastal Georgia, photographs of St. Simons Island and surrounding areas in Georgia
The materials are physically arranged according to type of material: slides, glass negatives, glass autochromes, negatives, unnumbered prints, numbered prints, exhibition prints, 8x10 prints, manuscript folders, photo albums, glass stereographs, and a box of the original containers for the materials.
The materials have been intellectually organized into the following series:
Series 1: 1895 Bicycle trip to England and France
Series 2: Pathological slides
Series 3: Medical images, 1898-1916
Series 4: Smokarol tobacco
Series 5: Family and New York scenes
Series 6: American Red Cross Mission to Russia
Very brittle manuscript material was photocopied to create a use copy. The originals of these materials are stored in Box 29, Folder 12.
Scope and Content Note
The Wightman collection consists of 13 linear feet of photographic prints, celluloid negatives, glass negatives, lantern slides, autochromes, glass stereographs and viewer, assorted small notebooks, manuscript materials, and a draft of his published account of the trip to Russia. The collection has been arranged into the following series: 1895 Bicycle trip to France and Spain, Pathological slides, Medical, Smokarol Tobacco, Family and Scenes of New York, and the American Red Cross Mission to Russia. These series include documentation of Russia and the Far East during World War I and the Russian Revolution, the development of the medical profession in New York City between the 1890s and 1910s, Central Park and downtown New York scenes, and one New York family's activities and vacations during the early part of the twentieth century.
The great majority of the collection is in good physical condition and were labeled and numbered by Wightman. Most photos that were not labeled by him (mainly the stereographs of New York City and the later exhibition photos of European scenes) are of identifiable places. There are many evidential papers accompanying the Russia series (poems written by Wightman, letters to him from family and colleagues, and his account of the trip) that aid in the full documentation of that trip. The collection includes 64 autochromes, an early method of printing color photographs onto glass; most of these are of Wightman's family, are physically and chemically stable, and still retain their brilliant color.
For administrative purposes, and since there are gaps in Wightman's numbering schemes, an artificial numbering system was imposed upon each series, although the original numbers are noted in the index to each series.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as Orrin Sage Wightman Photographs and Papers, PR 94, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Julia Parker Wightman, daughter of Dr. Orrin Sage Wightman, 1993.
About this Guide
Processed by Jenny Gotwals, circa 2000.