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Guide to the Orrin Sage Wightman Collection
[1895-1945]
 PR 94

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 04, 2017
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Orrin Sage Wightman
Title: Orrin Sage Wightman Collection
Dates [inclusive]: [1895-1945]
Abstract: 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
Quantity: 13.0 Linear feet (824 lantern slides : b&w and col. 731 photographic prints : b&w ; 11 x 14 or smaller. 594 photonegatives : celluloid. 225 stereographs : glass, b&w, some sepia, some cyan. 64 Autochrome : mostly col. ; mostly 5 x 7 in. 4 albums (photographic prints) : b&w
Location note: Print Room
Call Phrase: PR 94

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Biographical Note

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

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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.

Arrangement

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 original containers for the materials.

The materials have been intellectually organized into the following series:

  1. Series 1: 1895 Bicycle trip to England and France
  2. Series 2: Pathological slides
  3. Series 3: Medical images, 1898-1916
  4. Series 4: Smokarol tobacco
  5. Series 5: Family and New York scenes
  6. Series 6: American Red Cross Mission to Russia

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Andrews, Roy Chapman, 1884-1960--Portraits
  • Hanneman, Theodore--Portraits
  • Owen, Catherine Dale--Portraits
  • Thomas, Corvell--Portraits
  • Thompson, William Boyce, 1869-1930-- Portraits
  • Wightman, Julia P.--Portraits
  • Wyckoff, Harold M.

Document Type

  • Autochromes
  • Diaries
  • Glass negatives
  • Glass stereographs
  • Lantern slides
  • Negatives
  • Notebooks
  • Photographic prints

Subject Organizations

  • American Red Cross Expedition to Northern Russia
  • American Red Cross Mission to Russia
  • Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
  • City Hospital (New York, N.Y.)
  • Forbidden City (Beijing, China)--Description and travel
  • Gouverneur Hospital (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York Academy of Medicine
  • Russia. Armiiììa
  • Velikaiììa Siberskaiììa magistral

Subject Topics

  • Advertising--Tobacco industry
  • Anatomical specimens
  • Hospitals--New York (State)--New York
  • Human dissection
  • Medicine--Practice--New York (State)--New York
  • Nurses--New York (State)--New York
  • Nurses--Training of
  • Organs (Anatomy)--Diseases
  • Peasantry--Russia (Federation)
  • Physicians--New York (State)--New York
  • Soldiers--Russia (Federation)
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • World War, 1914-1918 --War work
  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American.

Subject Places

  • Arkhangel5skaiììa oblast5 (Russia)--Description and travel
  • Beijing (China)--Description and travel
  • France--Description and travel
  • Great Britain--Description and travel
  • Greece--Description and travel
  • Morocco--Description and travel
  • New York (N.Y.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
  • New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel
  • New York (State)--Social life and customs
  • Romania--Description and travel
  • Roosevelt Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Russia (Federation)--Description and travel
  • Russia (Federation)--History--Revolution, 1917-1921
  • Russia (Federation)--Social life and customs $y 20th century
  • Russia, Northern--Description and travel
  • Shanghai (China)--Description and travel
  • Yonkers (N.Y.)--Buildings, structures, etc.

Family Name(s)

  • Parker family
  • Wightman family

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Donation from Julia Parker Wightman, daughter of Dr. Orrin Sage Wightman, 1993.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 30 photocopies per day per person. Suitability of the original for photocopying is at the discretion of the staff. Neither blueprints nor tracings can be copied under any circumstances. Duplication of large-format items will be done by the house photographer. See Print Room guidelines for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from

Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Orrin Sage Wightman Collection.

Separated Material

Very brittle manuscript material was photocopied to create a use copy. The originals of these materials are stored in Box 29, Folder 12.

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Container List

Series 1: 1895 Bicycle trip to England and France

Scope and Contents note

Images from Wightman's 2000 mile bicycle trip through the British Isles and France. These depict architectural highlights and natural scenes from London, Paris and Scotland, as well as images of men on bicycles, and men and women on board a ship.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 1 Numbers 1 - 63
Box: 2 Numbers 64 -- 72

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Series 2: Pathological slides

Scope and Contents note

Lantern slides of removed human organs, most in advanced stages of disease. Often patient's names are included in the title, along with the organ and name of disease. Each slide is marked with the exposure time, suggesting that Wightman was just as interested in learning from the process of photographing these organs as in the resulting image. These slides were taken after 1898, as some are marked as property of "Dr. Wightman."

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 2 Numbers 1 -- 49
Box: 3 Numbers 50 -- 104

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Series 3: Medical images, 1898 -- 1916

Scope and Contents note

Contains varied documentation of the evolution and practice of the medical profession in New York. The development of the medical profession blossomed during the years Wightman's photographs were taken. These images show the staff of Gouverneur Hospital in the year 1898 -- 1899, when Wightman was an intern, and City Hospital nurses in a training program on Blackwell's Island in the summer of 1916.

Subseries 1: Negatives

Scope and Contents note

These images include formal group shots of the Gouverneur medical and nursing staff, as well as an image of Wightman and a doctor named Pezels dissecting a burned or partially decayed corpse. The images of the nurses' training program provides important information about what kinds of hands-on training nurses received, as well as images which show patient care, hospital sanitary conditions, and medical uniforms. Nurses are also shown in recreational settings.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 15 Numbers 1 - 6
Box: 16 Numbers 7 - 71
Box: 17 Numbers 72 - 77

Subseries 2: Prints

Scope and Contents note

Consists of prints of groups of nurses (some are Gouverneur nurse staff), newborn triplets, and images of the Gouverneur doctors at work and recreation, as well as their horse-drawn ambulance.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 25 Unnumbered prints
Box: 28 8x10 prints

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Series 4: Smokarol tobacco

Scope and Contents note

Contains images of Smokarol brand tobacco, which is sold wrapped in a roll of paper. The tobacco is seen in pipes, in cigarette rolling paper, and in its wrapper. It is also shown next to different brands, perhaps to show its superiority. These photographs are staged in a way reminiscent of still life paintings, and seem to have been taken for advertising purposes.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 17 Numbers 1 - 18

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Series 5: Family and New York scenes

Subseries 1: Stereographs

Scope and Contents note

Contains photographs from Wightman's family automobile trip to Cape Cod in 1916. Images include Plymouth Rock and hotels in which the family stayed. Julia and Orrin Jr. are children, and are shown playing and with their mother. Also includes images of 'Aunt Laura,' who does not appear in any other family photographs and is probably Wightman's (as opposed to Purl's) aunt.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 35 98 Glass stereographs and one stereoscope
Box: 36 124 Glass stereographs

Subseries 2: Negatives

Scope and Contents note

Contains photographs from Wightman's family automobile trip to Cape Cod in 1916. Images include Plymouth Rock and hotels in which the family stayed. Julia and Orrin Jr. are children, and are shown playing and with their mother. Also includes images of 'Aunt Laura,' who does not appear in any other family photographs and is probably Wightman's (as opposed to Purl's) aunt.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 17 Numbers 1 - 24

Subseries 3: Autochromes

Scope and Contents note

Consists of autochromes of Wightman's wife and children, and members of his wife's extended family. Most of these images were taken at Lenoir, the Parker family house in upstate New York, and included is an aerial view of the property. They show the Parker women in formal dress posed for the camera in different indoor and outdoor locales. Purl Parker Wightman's aunt, who is frequently pictured, was married to Calet Conley Dula, the president of Liggett & Myers tobacco company. A letter of introduction from Dula to a colleague in China is included with other of Wightman's correspondence in Series 6, Subseries 6, Folder 1. In the photos taken at Lenoir, Wightman's children are small, but they are also pictured as teenagers in the Wightman apartment in New York City. Wightman's father-in-law is shown with his Packard. Two autochromes are cased, as autochromes were supposed to be viewed, and an empty case is also in the collection.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 18 Numbers 1 - 25
Box: 19 Numbers 26 - 45
Box: 20 Numbers 46 - 49
Box: 21 Numbers 50 - 66

Subseries 4: Lantern Slides

Scope and Contents note

Contains slides of nature and family scenes. These were grouped into eight categories: miscellaneous, buildings, interiors, clouds, family/people, landscapes, garden views, and fruits and flowers. They are mainly random images of still lifes, natural settings, and family shots similar to those in Subseries 3. Of note are views of Collegiate Church and its sexton, and of the garden at Lenoir.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 4 Numbers 1 - 59
Box: 5 Numbers 60 - 117
Box: 6 Numbers 118 - 141

Subseries 5: Prints

Scope and Contents note

Encompasses 11x14 exhibition prints and portraits and small family snapshots. The large prints are housed together and feature images from Wightman's travels to England, Scotland, France, Morocco, Greece, and locales in Northern New England. The buildings of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Boyce Thompson Institute are also shown, the Institute from a great many angles. Portraits include a Dr. Rigika, Julia Parker Wightman, Corvell Thomas, Theodore Hanneman, Roy Chapman Andrews, Catherine Dale Owen, and William Boyce Thompson. New York scenes are also represented, many images are of Central Park in winter 1944. The Bronx River is also shown in winter with ice formations around bridges and along its riverbank. New York buildings shown include Heavenly Rest Church, Grant's Tomb, Columbia University Library, Pennsylvania Station, and general views of the Manhattan skyline. The small snapshots show groups of people at leisure, Wightman and Parker family members, various subjects such as sailboats, goats, New York street scenes, and some shots of "C.C. Dula hoeing his tobacco patch at Lenoir."

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 25 Unnumbered prints
Box: 27 Exhibition prints

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Series 6: American Red Cross Mission to Russia

Scope and Contents note

In July 1917, Wightman traveled to Russia on a medical mission organized by the American Red Cross. The mission was led by Colonel William Boyce Thompson. The Americans sailed from Vancouver, B.C. to Japan, and then traveled by the Trans-Siberian Rail Road through Manchuria, Mongolia, and across Russia to Petrograd. Wightman was issued permission by the Russian government to take still and moving film images of the trip and of war conditions in Russia. He was technically assisted in this by Lt. Harold Wyckoff, and was accompanied throughout his travels in Russia by a Cossack guide and translator, Capt. A. Ilowosky. In addition to documenting the mission's train journey, Wightman traveled to small towns in Russia and to Moscow and Odessa to take photos and films. He then traveled to the war front in Romania and photographed soldiers and hospitals there. In late October and November, Wightman traveled back across Russia and sailed home from China.

While in Odessa, Wightman was robbed of his passport, money, and photographic permits. Much of the correspondence in Subseries 6, Folder 1 relates to this theft and the subsequent necessity for emergency permits and passport.

The second half of 1917 saw Russia embattled and exhausted from fighting the Great War. One of the special subjects of Wightman's work, The Russian All-Women's Battalion, consisted of women training to fight, in response to some Russian men's refusal to go to battle. Most of the images from Romania show intense war devastation to small towns, and document the plight of refugees. Wightman's time in Russia coincided as well with major political upheaval. The overthrow of the Czarist regime by the Communist revolutionaries occurred in October 1917. Upon his return to the United States, Wightman gave many illustrated lectures and often discussed the Russian political situation and how it pertained to the end of the war (clippings and documents pertaining to these talks are in Subseries 6, Folders 9 and 10 below.)

The photographs depict peasant life in Manchuria, Mongolia, Russia and Romania. They show bread lines and vendors along the Trans-Siberian Rail Road. The All-Women's Battalion is pictured at leisure activities and in training. Russian and Romanian soldiers are also pictured in preparation for and at the frontlines. The Russian YMCA and its activities are documented, as is the flight of some early Nieuport British airplanes. In addition to these human scenes, Wightman photographed many historically important or architecturally notable buildings in Moscow, Petrograd and Odessa. While in Romania, Wightman had an audience with the royal family, and they are pictured at a soldier's hospital attending to patients. While in China on his way back to the United States, Wightman stayed in Peking and Shanghai, and took many pictures of street activity in those cities. He also photographed the Forbidden City, a complex of ornate temples and gardens.

The documents in Subseries 6 and 7 supplement the photographs and contribute to a more complete understanding of Wightman's experiences and views of his trip. Although none of Wightman's moving picture film is with this collection, the film log in Subseries 8 gives a shot by shot narrative of what kinds of activities he filmed and considered valuable documentation.

Wightman numbered a series of approximately 400 photographs of his trip which appear within the various forms below. Although he took many more pictures, this set seems to be one with which he lectured and from which he tried to sell prints to interested parties. The most coherent representation of this set is found in the numbered lantern slides which were originally housed in four wooden boxes with a typed index. The negatives and the prints (both in albums and loose) correspond to this numbered set, although an exact correlation of images does not exist between the differing media. A Microsoft Access database was created to provide quick reference among the different media. For example, if the title of a lantern slide is known, the database will show whether or not a negative or print of that same image exists in the collection. Each subseries below contains a complete (or a large part of the) numbered set, as well as additional and often complementary pictures.

Subseries 1: Negatives

Scope and Contents note

The great majority of these are negatives that correspond to lantern slides and prints. A few are for Wightman's emergency passport.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 22 Numbers 1 - 388
Box: 23 Numbers 389 - 438

Subseries 2: Lantern Slides

Scope and Contents note

Contains the basic set of Wightman's photographs of the trip. Some slides have duplicates or triplicates. Slides not included in the numbered run are often similar views from different angles.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 6 Numbers 1 - 37
Box: 7 Numbers 38 - 98
Box: 8 Numbers 99 - 158
Box: 9 Numbers 159 - 219
Box: 10 Numbers 220 - 280
Box: 11 Numbers 281 - 348
Box: 12 Numbers 349 - 417
Box: 13 Numbers 418 - 481
Box: 14 Numbers 482 - 510

Subseries 3: Prints

Scope and Contents note

These loose prints contain an almost complete numbered set which correspond to the lantern slides. A list of missing numbers is included with the prints. Unnumbered prints are often duplicates of numbered ones, or views of similar scenes from different angles. This subseries also contains a few images of Wightman and assistants in the process of taking moving film. A few postcards with Russian writing and commercial photographs of Russia are included.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 25 Numbered prints from 2 - 235
Box: 26 Numbered prints from 236 - 385; all unnumbered prints
Box: 28 8 x 10 prints

Subseries 4: Albums

Scope and Contents note

Two of these albums (#1 and #2) contain large 5x7 prints, which are numbered from 1 to 170. This numbering system does not directly correspond to that of the lantern slides. The untitled album (#3) contains numbered prints that correspond directly to the numbered negatives. This album is a good introduction into the main set of photographs, as it contains all the photographs in the other albums. The last album (#4) is titled "Sample prints" and contains photographs from the beginning of the Mission's trip.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 31 Album number 1
Box: 32 Album number 2
Box: 33 Album number 3
Box: 34 Album number 4

Subseries 5: Pictures brought by Lt. Wyckoff from Russia 1918 - 1919

Scope and Contents note

Depicts activities of the American Red Cross in Archangel and North Russia. Most images are of winter scenes and arctic curiosities, such as ice breaking boats and Samoyed statues. Russian village life is also shown. Memorials and ruins from the war are also pictured. These photographs were not taken by Wightman, but by his assistant, Lt. Harold Wyckoff.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 23 Numbers 1 - 60
Box: 24 Numbers 61 - 151

Subseries 6: Manuscript materials and ephemera

Scope and Contents note

Contains printed material from Wightman's trip, and contributes to a more complete understanding of the undertaking and its subsequent effect on his life. Correspondence with family members (Folder 1) and small snapshots of his children (Folder 9) suggest the importance of family connections to Wightman during his travels. Lists of photographic supplies and receipts for supplies and processing both before and after the trip (Folder 3) document of what kind of equipment was used and its expense. Russian language documents in Folder 4, mainly passes and awards, are interesting evidential documents of the time period in Russia.

Folder 7 contains three poems written by Wightman during his time in Russia, "To the Princess Varvar Kropotkin, one of Russoa's (sic) Noblewomen," "The Cossack," and "Petrograd." Also of interest in this folder are hand drawn and lettered menus from Wightman's time at the Romanian front. These depict the kinds of food eaten by Romanian officers and have detailed watercolor and pastel drawings and cartoons of war scenes and women. Folder 9 contains a Japanese fan.Folder 9 consists of three small notebooks used by Wightman to record expenses, lists of family and friends to whom postcards should be sent, photographic supplies bought and needed, still and moving picture records, and other lists and notations. One of these notebooks contained many small family snapshots and notes in an inside pocket. These have been removed and are housed in a small folder within Folder 9.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 29 Folder : 1 Correspondence (chronological)
Box: 29 Folder : 2 Correspondence with American Red Cross
1918
Box: 29 Folder : 3 Financial reports, receipts and inventories
Box: 29 Folder : 4 Russian Language Documents
Box: 29 Folder : 5 Propaganda and Appeals
Box: 29 Folder : 6 Business Cards and Printed Matter
Box: 29 Folder : 7 Ephemera from Red Cross trip
Box: 29 Folder : 8 Ephemera from Red Cross trip
Box: 29 Folder : 9 Notebooks from Red Cross trip
Box: 29 Folder : 10 Documents from lectures and speeches given by OSW
1918
Box: 29 Folder : 11 Clippings

Subseries 7: Manuscript of Diary of an American Physician in the Russian Revolution

Scope and Contents note

A typed manuscript copy of Wightman's published account of his trip to Russia. Handwritten editing and notes are present, although it seems to be a finalized copy of the manuscript. This was originally in a binder, but has been removed and is now divided into two folders. The New-York Historical Society holds a published copy of this work.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 30 Folder : 1 Manuscript of Diary of an American Physician in the Russian Revolution
Box: 30 Folder : 2 Manuscript of Diary of an American Physician in the Russian Revolution

Subseries 8: Ledger of film titles

Scope and Contents note

A seemingly complete listing of titles for moving pictures taken by Wightman and his crew. Many of these scenes were also still photographed, his descriptions in this ledger may supplement information elsewhere about locations or actions. This document was originally housed in a binder, the front of which has been photocopied and is in the folder with the manuscript. The physical binder, now empty, is housed in Box 30 along with this folder.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 30 Folder : 3 Ledger of film titles

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