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George Edward Anderson photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 3157

Scope and Contents

Contains sixteen original photographs by prominent Utah photographer George Edward Anderson.

Dates

  • approximately 1890-1919

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research. Items kept in cold storage; access requires 24 hours advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from George Edward Anderson photographs must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

George Edward Anderson (1860-1928) was a Mormon photographer.

George Edward Anderson (Ed, as he was called) was born October 28, 1860 in Salt Lake City to George A. Anderson and Mary Ann Thorn, and was the oldest of nine children. He was apprenticed as a teenager under the renowned photographer, Charles R. Savage. It was at Savage's Temple Bazaar that he became friends with fellow apprentices John Hafen and John F. Bennett. Hafen was later to become an accomplished artist and Bennett was to become instrumental in preserving Anderson's collection of glass plate negatives.

At the age of seventeen, Anderson established his own photography studio in Salt Lake City with his brothers, Stanley and Adam. He subsequently established a studio in Manti, Utah in 1886. In the fall of 1888 he moved his studio to Springville, Utah, with his bride, Olive Lowry. He is perhaps best known for his traveling tent studio, set up in small towns throughout central, eastern, and southern Utah, where he captured the lives of the residents. These studios thrived throughout the years 1884-1907.

Although today we might think of Ed Anderson as a portrait photographer, his clear and artistic studio portraits are complemented by thousands of documentary portraits taken near homes, barns, and businesses. They document not only families but also small town Utah history. He documented, among other things, railroad history, mining history including the Scofield mine disaster, and the building of temples by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pure landscape photographs were never his interest, but to many Church members, his 1907-1908 photographs of Church history sites are their only acquaintance with Anderson's photography. He photographed these sites while traveling across the country to begin his LDS Church mission in England from 1909-1911. The Deseret Sunday School Union of the Church published some of the views, as Anderson called them, in a booklet entitled The Birth of Mormonism in Picture.

Upon the completion of his mission, Anderson returned to South Royalton, Vermont, and set up a photography studio near the birthplace of the prophet Joseph Smith. He added a number of Church history site photographs, as well as portraits of Church members and local residents to his growing collection. Finally, in November 1913 he returned to his family and home in Springville, Utah.

After a seven year absence his photographic business was unhealthy and his family life was strained. But business and money were never the motivating forces of Ed Anderson's lifeā€”art and religion were his driving forces. Continuing to experience financial and marital strains, Anderson tried to revive his traveling tent studio but was met with little success. He was, however, able to earn some money from the sale of The Birth of Mormonism booklet.

The later years of Ed Anderson's life were spent in documenting families and life in Utah Valley and traveling to newly constructed temples. In 1923, he traveled to Cardston, Alberta, Canada with Church authorities for the dedication of that city's temple. He was to spend two years in Canada, thus returning to Springville in 1925. Though ill in the fall of 1927 and despite his wife's urging not to go, Anderson went once again with Church officials to document the dedication of another temple, this time in Mesa, Arizona. It was to be his last trip. He died of heart failure on May 9, 1928 after being brought home to Springville.

Extent

2 oversize boxes (4 linear ft.)

Language

English

Custodial History

Donated by Julie A. Nav Ellis and Larry Nav.

Purchased from Benchmark Books in October 2013.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Julie A. Nav Ellis and Larry Nav.

Purchased; Benchmark Books; October 2013.

Appraisal

Photographs (Photograph Archives).

Processing Information

Processed; Sadie Hutchinson; 2015.
Title
Register of George Edward Anderson photographs
Status
Completed
Author
Abe Austin
Date
2012 April 11
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

Contact:
1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States