E.M. Sammis Photographs, circa 1861-1866  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Sammis, E. M.
E.M. Sammis Photographs
circa 1861-1866 (inclusive)
27 photographic prints on cartes-de-visite mounts (1 box and 1 folder)
1 mounted oversize photograph
Collection Number
Photographs documenting various Seattle structures and residents, including the Territorial University of Washington, Seattle buildings, and portraits of Chief Seattle and the Bagley and Chambers families.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Access restricted to original photographs. Permission from the Curator must be obtained to view the originals. Entire collection , other than item 2a, is available on digital site. Use digital site to preserve original photographs.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Before coming to Western Washington, E.M. Sammis had a business in Visalia, California, making portrait daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and carte-de-visite photographs. By 1860, he was working in Olympia, and by 1865, he had moved to Seattle. Sammis made photographs not only of local people but also of the city and various events. These images would probably have been popular not just locally, but also in larger cities like San Francisco, where people craved news of more remote locations.

Sammis is most famous for his photograph of Chief Seattle (si?al), made in 1865. Early historian Clarence Bagley, a friend of Sammis, was visiting the photographer in his studio one day when Chief Seattle happened to walk by. Sammis ran out and asked Seattle to come in and be photographed; the chief acquiesced. Bagley assisted Sammis in making a batch of prints, and before long the image was being sold all over the country.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Featured in the photographs are well-known Seattle residents and structures. Members of the Bagley family were prominent Seattle citizens during the last half of the nineteenth century. Daniel Bagley was a Methodist minister and missionary who was influential in founding Seattle's Territorial University. His son Clarence was best-known for his histories of Seattle and King County.

Seattle's Territorial University opened on November 4, 1861, with one teacher, Asa Shinn Mercer, and a student population of just 30. The campus was located at what is now 4th Avenue and University Street in downtown Seattle. In the university's early years, primary school subjects were taught as well as the college curriculum. In 1895, the campus moved to its University District location on Lake Washington.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains 27 carte-de-visite photographs made by Edward M. Sammis of various residents and localities in Seattle, Washington.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View collection in digital format

Photocopies of the original carte-de-visite photographs are available for viewing.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Seattle LocalitiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box item
1 1 1865
1 2
 First Ave. South (Sammis 2)
Other early Seattle photographs copied this photograph and some marked copies with their own negative numbers. Copies exist by George Moore, Theodore Peiser (16) and Asahel Curtis (32137, 28831, and 55243). Copies by Curtis are described below under item 2a.
266 2a
"Seattle in 1865"
Subtitled: Looking North on Commercial Street (now 1st Avenue South) from Main Street.This is a matted 24" x 30" visual guide to early Seattle, probably created by Asahel Curtis. It includes a hand-colored and enlarged print of the Sammis photograph of First Ave. South, copied by Asahel Curtis (negative number 32137). A caption underneath the hand-colored print reads: © 1915 Curtis and Miller. Beneath the hand-colored image, a copy of the Sammis photograph (Curtis 55243) is labeled with numbers that are referenced on the mount in handwritten text to identify the buildings in the photograph.
Territorial University of Washington
Box item
1 3 Aug., 1865
1 4 Aug., 1865?
1 5
1 6
1 7 1865
1 8
1 9
1 10 ca. 1866

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • College buildings--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Indians of North America--Washington (State)--Photographs
  • Pioneers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photograph
  • Personal Names :
  • Bagley, Clarence, 1843-1932--Photographs
  • Bagley, Daniel, 1818-1905--Photographs
  • Chambers, Andrew Jackson, 1825-1908--Photographs
  • Chambers, Margaret White, d. 1912--Photographs
  • Seattle, Chief, 1790-1866--Photographs
  • Corporate Names :
  • Territorial University (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Cartes de visite
  • Photographs