About the Collection

Further Readings

There are three authors who have brought us the majority of the print publications that have appeared about Anderson’s life and photography.  The man most dedicated to the life and work of George Edward Anderson is Springville photographer, author, and resident, Rell G. Francis (See “About the Collection” for his tremendous contribution to the preservation of this collection).  The majority of these titles include both biographies and examples of Anderson’s marvelous photographs.

Early Photographers and the American West

To help place the photographic work of George Edward Anderson into its proper historical perspective, the following titles are recommended.  It is evident that George Edward Anderson labored in relative obscurity during his lifetime; after his death in 1928 he was essentially forgotten, until justly resurrected through the works of Rell G. Francis, Nelson Wadsworth, and Richard Holzapfel.

Current, Karen.   Photography and the Old West.  New York: H. N. Abrams in association with the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1978.  There is an excellent section on George Edward Anderson entitled “The Mormon Settlers: George Edward Anderson (1860–1928),” with the biographical information attributed to Nelson B. Wadsworth, Through Camera Eyes and Rell G. Francis, “ G. E. Anderson,” from the Popular Photography article mentioned below.

Other interesting books, which may or may not include Anderson, are as follows:

  • Andrews, Ralph W.   Pioneer Gallery Pioneers 1850 to 1875.  Seattle: Superior Publishing Co., 1964.   It contains an interesting section on C.R. Savage and Utah photographs.
  • Andrews, Ralph W.   Photographers of the Frontier West: Their Lives and works, 1875 to 1915 .  Seattle: Superior Publishing Co., 1965.  This title is devoid of Utah photographers.
  • Fowler, Don D.   The Western Photographs of John K. Hillers.  Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.  His first photographic experience was as the boatman for John Wesley Powell on the 1871 Colorado River exploration.  Subsequent experiences with U.S. Geological Survey explorations marked him as a photographer equal to William Henry Jackson and Eadweard Muybridge.
  • Naef, Weston J.   Era of Exploration: The Rise of Landscape Photography in the American West, 1860–1885.  Buffalo: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1975.
  • Sandweiss, Martha A., ed.   Photography in Nineteenth-Century America.  Published for the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991. The prominence of C.R. Savage, Anderson’s early mentor, is evident throughout this work.
  • Sandweiss, Martha A.   Print the Legend: Photography and the American West.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.  This book links the story of photography and the American West with no mention of Anderson, but once again C.R. Savage is given the credit that he deserves as one of the foremost 19 th Century landscape photographers of the American West.
  • Weber, Eva.   Great Photographers of the American West.   Sacaucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1993.

Personal Writings of George Edward Anderson

Anderson wrote diaries throughout much of his adult life.  Although there are gaps in the years, the diaries span 1895–1928.  Original diaries are found in three repositories in the state of Utah.

The diaries for the years 1895–-1904, 1908–1909, 1914–15, and 1919–20 are held at Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, MSS 1477.  These dairies were originally owned by G. Lowry Anderson, his son, and were donated by him to the Harold B. Lee Library.

The Church Library and Archives hold 15 volumes of diaries covering various years from 1908 to 1928, including microfilm copies of the years 1907, 1909–11.   The original diaries for 1907, and 1909–11, are held at the Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Memorial Museum, Salt Lake City.  The microfilmed diaries are found under the Church Archives call number MS 8795.  There are also three boxes of manuscripts on George Edward Anderson, containing diaries of his activities in Canada, Arizona, and Springville, along with notebooks, address books, and account books.  These can be found under call number MS 1771 at the Church Archives.

Although there are three repositories holding the diaries, it is possible to have access to all of the diaries through research at Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, L. Tom Perry Special Collections and the LDS Church Library and Archives.

Utah Photographs

As the vast majority of this collection centers on Utah and its people, a must reading for background is the book that was authored as an exhibit publication by Rell G. Francis for the 1979 Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth Texas.  This work will add further information to the descriptions that you will find of the photographs in this online collection.  

Francis, Rell G.   The Utah Photographs of George Edward Anderson .  Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.  

Other works of interest are:

Francis, Rell G.  “G. E. Anderson, Springville, Spanish Fork, Utah.”   Popular Photography 77 (August 1975): 86-97, 113-115.

Francis, Rell G.  “Glass Plates: The Photographs of George Edward Anderson.”   Rocky Mountain Magazine (January/February 1980): 38-45.

Francis, Rell G.  “Views of Mormon Country: The Life and Photographs of George Edward Anderson.”   American West 15 (December 1978): 14-30.

Francis, Rell G.  ‘Mirror of Zion: The Utah Photographs of George Edward Anderson.”   American Heritage 30 (June/July 1979): 28-47.

Wadsworth, Nelson B.   Set in Stone Fixed in Glass: The Great Mormon Temple and Its Photographers.  Salt Lake City: Signature books, 1992.  Despite its title, this book, which includes many photographs by Anderson, includes much more than the photography of the Salt Lake Temple.

Wadsworth, Nelson B.   Through Camera Eyes.  Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975.  The last chapter, demonstrating the dry plate technique, is the story of George Edward Anderson, his biography and photographic contributions.

There are two rather lengthy articles on Utah photographers found in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers publications.  The earlier work has an extremely brief section on George Edward Anderson.   The later publication greatly expands the entries on both George Edward Anderson and C. R. Savage.

Carter, Kate B., comp.   Heart Throbs of the West .  Vol. 9: 101-152.  “The Story of an Old Album.”  Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1948.

Carter, Kate B., comp.   Our Pioneer Heritage . Vol. 18: 249-304.  “Early Pioneer Photographers.”  Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1975.

Latter-day Saint Church History

The majority of the glass plate negatives of LDS church history historic sites are retained in the LDS Church Archives.  Sites such as Nauvoo, Illinois; Kirtland, Ohio; Palmyra, New York; and South Royalton and Sharon, Vermont were photographed in 1907–1908 while Anderson was traveling across the United States en route to his Latter-day Saint mission in England.  Upon Anderson’s return from his mission in 1911, he chose to stay in South Royalton, Vermont until November 1913 and establish a small studio near the Joseph Smith Birthplace.  Although the bulk of the LDS church historic site photographs were retained in the LDS Church Archives, there are representative samples of historic site photographs found in this digital collection.

Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel, T. Jeffery Cottle, and Ted D. Stoddard, editors.   Church History in Black and White: George Edward Anderson’s Photographic Mission to Latter-day Saint Historical Sites.  Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1995.

Wadsworth, Nelson.  “A Village Photographer’s Dream.”   Ensign 3 (September 1973): 40-55.  Includes biographical information, Utah and LDS Church photographs.

The LDS Church published his “views,” as he called them, of historic Church sites in 1909 when he was on his mission in England.  

The Birth of Mormonism in Picture: From Photographs of George E. Anderson of Springville, Utah … Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union, 1909.

Anderson also published an article in the Improvement Era about the time he left South Royalton, Vermont, and returned to Springville, Utah.

Anderson, George Edward. “The Last Celebration of the 24th at the Birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by Ben E. Rich.”   Improvement Era 17 (November 1913): 122-127.