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Russell Sturgis Photograph Collection

Identifier: WUA-06-wua00371

The collection consists of approximately 15,000 images focusing primarily on European architectural details, topographical views, sculpture, and painting. In addition, there are many photographs of cities and archaeological sites from Egypt, India, Japan, Syria, Turkey, and the former Soviet Republics.

The collection features numerous works of many celebrated American and European photographers and photographic editors from the infancy of photography, including:  Leopoldo Alinari, Edouard-Denis Baldus, the Bisson Frères, Howard Crosby Butler, Charles Clifford, Francis Frith, Robert Macpherson, Robert Mieusement, Carlo Ponti, and others.

For additional information abour the Russell Sturgis Photograph Collection, see the link here,


  • Creation: 1853-1903


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


224.00 linear feet

Biographical Information

American architect Russell Sturgis (1836 – 1909) was a leading figure in the development of architectural criticism at the turn of the 20th-century. During his formative years in New York, Sturgis gained an appreciation for architectural history and modern design. An advocate of the American Pre-Raphaelites, Sturgis sought much inspiration in the written works of English architect and critic John Ruskin. Upon his return to New York after extensive travel abroad, Sturgis opened his own architectural practice in 1863. In addition to his success as an architect, Sturgis authored countless articles and books on various architectural subjects. 

After 1858, Sturgis earnestly began to collect choice photographs and drawings of various architectural gems. Sturgis' collection of photographs is particularly rich in both its collective thoroughness and diversity of images represented.

This collection of photographs was purchased from the estate of Russell Sturgis in 1909 by Washington University’s Department of Architecture for use as a study collection for students. Shortly after this, Sturgis’ vast art and reference library was purchased by the Saint Louis Art Museum to serve as a building block for their library.


The collection is arranged into four (4) SUB-GROUPS according to the size of the substrate on which the photograph is mounted (Small, Medium, Large or Extra-Large).

Each sub-group may be further divided into SERIES defined by the medium depicted in the image (Architecture, Sculpture, or Painting).

Each series may be further divided into SUB-SERIES defined by subject (Continent of Origin, Country of Origin, General Geographic Area, or Historical Epoch).

Box numbers run inclusively from box 01 to box 212.

Method of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from the estate of Russell Sturgis in 1909 by the Washington University Department of Architecture. In 1961 the collection was transferred to the Art History and Archaeology department. Following this, the collection was cared for by the Art and Architecture Library. In 1996, the mounted prints comprising this collection were transferred to the University Archives.

Related Materials

University Archives hosts Architectonic Fixations, a website featuring approximately 320 digitally rendered photographs from the Russell Sturgis Photograph Collection.

Other Descriptive Information

The nomenclature of countries, general geographic areas, and historical epochs reflect the then current thinking of the early 20th-century when the collection was acquired by the university. In many instances, one may see a change of name (for example, “Strasbourg, France” [since 1944] is found under “Strassburg, Germany” [1871-1919; 1940-44]).

The collection is most easily searched by city of origin or the name of the photographer and/or studio. To expedite searching, use the “Edit/Find” feature of ones personal computer to locte the appropriate box [es] (for example, a search for the city “Lucca” in Italy points to boxes 91, 186, and 210)

Processing Information

Processed by Jay Kempen in April 2000. Finding aid updated by Miranda Rectenwald in September 2006.

Russell Sturgis Photograph Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May 28: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.
  • 2023 March 7 - May 24: Additional data cleanup by Danielle Kronmiller.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495