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Release: May 16, 2001

UI web site features century-old photo collection

IOWA CITY, Iowa –- A trip back in time to the turn of the 19th century is just a click away, thanks to the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts department of geoscience's new web site featuring more than 800 photographs taken between the mid-1880s and the 1920s.

Photographed by Samuel Calvin, UI professor of natural sciences from 1873-1911, and his colleagues, the Calvin Photographic Collection ( includes geological, agricultural and industrial landscapes as well as scenes of Iowa City, the UI campus and students and a collection of portraits. While the original collection is housed in the department of geoscience and consists of more than 10,000 glass plate negatives, Julia Golden, UI curator of paleontologic collections, created the database and the web site for the on-line version with the assistance of volunteers and student research assistants.

According to Golden, the diversity of the Calvin Photographic Collection makes it of interest to anyone who wants to see what life was like for people living in Iowa and other parts of North America at the turn of the 19th century. She notes that the collection will also be of use to teachers, students, geologists, and historians.

The Calvin Project was made possible by grants from the State Historical Society of Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection - Historical Resource Development Program (REAP/HRDP), and the University of Iowa Arts and Humanities Initiative, with additional support from the University of Iowa department of geoscience.

Visitors to the web site are invited to browse through the collection of photographs in "Calvin’s Scrapbook" by subject and search for geological images by state with the "Calvin Image Database." A virtual exhibition, "Fixing the Image: Samuel Calvin's Vision of Iowa," showcases some of the most evocative and aesthetic photographs in the collection.