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Guide to the Orrin Sage Wightman Photographs and Papers
 PR 94

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2022
Description is in English.

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.


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.