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H.M. Chester photograph collection

Call Number

PR 131


1892-1910, undated, inclusive


Chester, H. M. (Herbert M.), 1858-


3.78 Linear feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials

This collection is primarily visual. Any text is likely to be in English.


Collection of glass negatives documenting H.M. Chester's extensive travels across the United States and to its borders from 1892-1910. Views of expositions, railroads, prominent residences, national parks, and tourist attractions make up the bulk of the collection which focuses most heavily on California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Washington, and Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks.

Biographical Note

Herbert M. Chester was born in New York in 1858 to Emeline Merritt and John H. Chester. By 1870 the family had moved to North Stonington, Connecticut. Little is known about Chester's life except that he traveled extensively throughout the United States between 1892 and 1909 to California, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Michigan, New York, and other states, as well as to the Canadian and Mexican borders.


Materials are arranged alphabetically by state; thereunder they are filed by city or geographical feature and then alphabetically by major features. Mexico is filed at the end of the states, followed by miscellaneous negatives. Oversize negatives and the three photographic contact prints are filed in box 9.

Scope and Contents

The H.M. Chester Photograph Collection consists of glass negatives, measuring 4 x 5 to 6 ½ x 8 ½ inches, depicting prominent residences, tourist attractions, railroads, fairs, and natural landscapes across the United States, but especially in California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Washington, and at Yellowstone National Park. The collection spans the period from 1892-1910; most of the negatives are undated but were probably created close to this time period. The collection is arranged alphabetically by state and thereunder by city or other geographical feature; views of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo have been filed under Niagara Falls/Buffalo because the majority of the photographs relate to Niagara Falls. Images of Yellowstone National Park have been filed under Wyoming. Views of Mexico are filed at the end of the states. Views of unidentified locations have been filed in a miscellaneous subseries at the end of the collection; they are organized by subject. One box of oversized negatives has been filed at the end of the collection; it also contains the photographic prints. It is unclear whether the photographs in this collection were taken by H.M. Chester or by another member of his traveling party. Some numbers have been subdivided by letter due to the addition of discovered negatives after the collection was processed.

The collection includes views of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in 1909, the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition held in Portland, Oregon in 1905, and the Pan-American Exposition held in 1901 in Buffalo (and associated hydroelectric projects at Niagara Falls). The collection includes photographs of H.M. Chester, his wife, and their fellow travelers at many of the featured locations. California is the most heavily represented state in the collection. A series of Yosemite National Park and Mount Tamalpais landscape photographs are complemented by more urban photographs taken in Los Angeles and at San Francisco and Oakland landmarks. In New York, Rochester and Niagara Falls are the most heavily represented areas, although some images of New York City buildings and events such as the Dewey Celebration and the Grant's Tomb Dedication Parade are included.

Foreign views on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and of the Mexican border, probably near Tijuana, are also present. The Connecticut negatives, of which several are oversized, consist primarily of images of a farm in North Stonington, Connecticut (which is probably the Chester family farm) as well as photographs of H.M. Chester and his wife.

The miscellaneous subseries includes photographs of individuals, animals, unidentified landscapes, ships, streetscapes, and two 1907 flower shows. A few portraits of a man identified as W.E. McCarthy are also present.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

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, 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:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as H.M. Chester Photograph Collection, PR 131, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of American Institute of the City of New York on October 4, 1933.

Collection processed by

Jennifer Lewis

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:48:00 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Chester.xml


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024