Cartes-de-visite photographs, 1855-1905

Overview of the Collection

Cartes-de-visite photographs
1855-1905 (inclusive)
1.24 cubic feet, (10 card boxes (5.5 x 12 x 3.25 in.))  :  2,161 cartes-de-visite photographs
Collection Number
Org. Lot 500
This artificial collection consists of cartes-de-visite photographs donated to the Oregon Historical Society prior to 2010. It includes portraits taken from about 1855 through the early 1900s. The collection also includes images of locomotives, ships, buildings, and landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Cartes-de-visite are a form of card photograph popular from around 1860 to the early 1900s, typically used for portraiture. The common construction of these cards consists of a thin albumen print mounted on a thicker card backing measuring 2.5 x 4 inches. André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri patented the process of creating these photo cards in Paris in 1854, streamlining the process of commercial portraiture. Cartes-de-visite were traded among friends and visitors and they were popularly displayed in albums. In the United States, cartes-de-visite were a staple of commercial photographers during the Civil War as a means of selling inexpensive portraits of soldiers and their loved ones. Photographs of celebrities, military, and political figures were also popular for collecting and trading. Cartes-de-visite were superseded by Cabinet cards, a similar, larger format of roughly 4.5 x 6.5 inches, in the 1870s, but they remained popular into the 20th century.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This artificial collection was accumulated from accessions containing cartes-de-visite photographs acquired prior to 2010 by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. The cartes-de-visite were originally part of a topical photograph collection and were separated into their own collection to address preservation concerns. The numbering scheme for the collection reflects their original placement within the topical photograph collection. As a result, numbering in this collection is not sequential. The collection includes portraits taken from about 1855 through the early 1900s. Many of the portraits have attached biographical information. Portraits by many well-known Oregon photography studios are represented in this collection, including Joseph Buchtel, Andrew B. Paxton, Isaac G. Davidson, Peter Britt, and F. A. Smith. The collection also contains images of locomotives, ships, buildings, and landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.

Also included is the Photographer Study Collection, which contains sample work from several studios in Oregon, California, and Washington. The portraits in this series are unidentified with the exception of a small selection of portraits that were identified after the collection was assembled.

In addition to Oregon-related materials, the collection includes cartes-de-visite of notable military, political, and celebrity figures from the late 19th century. The most common subjects are American Civil War portraits, a series of illustrations of George and Martha Washington, European notables cards, and advertisements. Also included in the collection is a blue leather photograph album containing 20 unidentified portraits possibly related to the families of Daniel Howell or Bessie Gault.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The materials in this collection are in the public domain.

Preferred Citation

Cartes-de-Visite photographs, Org. Lot 500, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Alternative Forms Available

Digitized versions of the cartes-de-visite are available at OHS Digital Collections.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged into 6 series: Series 1. Portraits, 1854-1900; Sub-Series 1.1. Identified; Subseries 1.2. Unidentified; Sub-Series 1.3. Portraits unrelated to Oregon; Series 2. Photographer Study Collection; Series 3. Locations, 1854-1900; Series 4. Transportation, 1854-1900; Series 5. Military, 1854-1900; Series 6. Advertisements, 1854-1900.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Portraits, 1855-1905Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Sub-Series 1.1: Identified
Box envelope
1 1 – 226
Surnames, A - Chamn
2 227 – 399
Surnames, Chamn - For
3 400 – 579
Surnames, Fos - Ir
4 580 – 755
Surnames, Is - Miz
5 756 – 939
Surnames, Mo - Schz
6 940 – 1049
Surnames, Sci - Tn
7 1050 – 1142
Surnames, To - Z
8 A-1 – A-208
Surnames, additions A - Z
10 Over 6 – 1134; Over A-1 – A-4
Surnames, oversized A - Z
Sub-Series 1.2: Unidentified
Box envelope
8 A-209 – A-260; A-345 – A-357
Unidentified portraits
Photo Album
Sub-Series 1.3: Portraits unrelated to Oregon
Box envelope
9 A-467 - A-473
George Washington and family
9 A-474 - A-582
European notables

Series 2:  Photographer Study Collection, 1855-1905Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box envelope
9 A-360 - A-440
Oregon Studios
9 A-441 - A-457
California Studios
9 A-458
Washington Studios

Series 3:  Locations, 1855-1905Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box envelope
8 A-261 - A-297
Oregon, identified locations
10 Over A-7
Oregon, identified locations
8 A-328 - A-344
Oregon, illustrations
8 A-298 - A-310
United States, identified locations
8 A-323 - A-327
Unidentified locations
9 A-583 - A-626
Europe, identified locations

Series 4:  Transportation, 1855-1905Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box envelope
8 A-311 - A-317
8 A-318 - A-322

Series 5:  Military, 1855-1905Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box envelope
10 Over A-6
Civil War caricature
9 A-459 – A-464
Civil War portraits
9 A-465 – A-466
Revolutionary War monuments

Series 6:  Advertisements, 1855-1905Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box envelope
9 A-356 - A-357
Oregon businesses
9 A-358 - A-359
Unknown locations

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Landscape photography--West (U.S.)
  • Pioneers--Oregon--Photographs

Geographical Names

  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Portraits

Form or Genre Terms

  • Genealogies
  • cartes-de-visite (card photographs)