Aultman Studio Photograph Collection Re-Opens to Researchers
Portraits, landscapes, and city scenes: for 110 years, the Aultman Studio in Trinidad, Colorado made all of these types of photographs, thoroughly documenting the southern Colorado community’s people and places through the camera’s lens. Opened in 1890 by Oliver E. Aultman, the studio operated in Trinidad until Aultman’s son and successor, Glen, died in 2000, and was one of Colorado’s longest-running photography businesses. History Colorado is fortunate to hold approximately 50,000 negatives and several hundred prints from the studio, as well as studio equipment and furniture.
The Aultman collection is one of History Colorado’s most remarkable treasures. Not only is it the largest photograph collection held by History Colorado, but it is an extraordinary visual record of the ways a Colorado community grew and changed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection is also unique in that the Aultmans’ portraits accurately reflect the ethnic diversity of the Trinidad area during that time: white, African-American, and Hispanic members of the community all sat for portraits taken by the Aultmans. The collection is therefore an incredible resource for researchers looking for portraits of ancestors who lived in the Trinidad area.
Until recently, the Aultman Studio collection was closed to researchers. During the transition to History Colorado’s new center at 1200 Broadway, all of the negatives were carefully packed away, and the collection was closed until staff could unpack and rehouse it at our offsite storage facility. We are very pleased to announce that the Aultman Studio collection is now available to researchers once more. Since August 2013, History Colorado staff have unpacked and rehoused more than 22,000 of the Aultmans’ glass negatives. These negatives are now open for use, and researchers may request to view or order reproductions of them by contacting History Colorado at email@example.com. We expect to finish unpacking the negatives in Spring 2014, at which point the entire collection will once again be accessible to researchers.
Researchers interested in browsing through a representative sample of the Aultman Studio collection can view over 880 images of Aultman photographs and equipment on the History Colorado Online Collection database. More than 1,900 images from the Aultman collection are also available to view online at the Denver Public Library Digital Collections website. The entire collection has also been indexed online using the studio’s registers, which list names of Trinidad residents who sat for and bought portraits from the studio beginning in 1890.
History Colorado’s Photography Department plans to digitize additional photographs from the Aultman Studio collection over the next few years, so that more images from the collection will be available online to researchers. Staff are also working on organizing and making available the prints from the collection, many of which have never been made accessible to the public. We expect to have a complete guide to these prints finished in 2014.
Megan K. Friedel
Curator of Photography
Top photo: M. Mestes and family, Aultman 5811, 10029607
Contact the Library
Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center
History Colorado Center
Denver, CO 80203