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Photograph of San Francisco RuinsPanoramic Photographs

Prints and Photographs Division

Collection digitized? Yes. About 4,200 panoramic photographs are available in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. (The same images are presented on the Library of Congress American Memory site.) A few selected images are included here to give a sample of the collection.
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The Panoramic Photograph Collection contains approximately four thousand images featuring American cityscapes, landscapes, and group portraits. These panoramas offer an overview of the nation, its enterprises and its interests, with a focus on the start of the twentieth century when the panoramic format was at the height of its popularity. Subject strengths include: agricultural life; beauty contests; disasters; engineering works such as bridges, canals and dams; fairs and expositions; military and naval activities, especially during World War I; the oil industry; schools and college campuses; sports; and transportation. The images date from 1851 to 1991 and depict scenes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. More than twenty foreign countries and a few U.S.territories are also represented. These panoramas average between twenty-eight inches and six feet in length, with an average width of ten inches.

The Library of Congress' large collection of panoramas was formed mainly during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when many photographers submitted copies of their works to the Library for copyright protection. Around 1900, panoramic photography was practiced primarily by commercial photographers. Postcards and magazines reproduced panoramas as advertisements for real estate and the promotion of the tourist industry. Panoramic photographs were also popular as portrait souvenirs for people attending conventions, conferences, and company events. Shortly after a group was photographed or "panographed" (a term used by some panoramic photographers) the panorama would be displayed and orders would be taken for copies. Large group portraits almost certainly guaranteed many sales.

A few commercial photography studios still specialize in panoramic photography. Additionally, many photographers currently use the panoramic format as a means of artistic expression.


The Panoramic Photograph collection includes images taken by more than four hundred different photographers. The following biographies profile four photographers whose work demonstrates a few special aspects of the panoramic format.

George R. Lawrence (1869-1938)

After working briefly at a Chicago wagon factory in 1889, George Lawrence opened a studio for the production of crayon enlargements -- large photographs, usually portraits, that have been enhanced by pastels or charcoal. Crayon enlargements were popular wall decorations in the late 1800s.

In 1893, Lawrence's studio partner left Chicago permanently. Lawrence inherited the equipment and learned to develop negatives from a local photographer's apprentice. He formed the Geo. R. Lawrence Company and quickly became an innovator in the field, using the slogan "The Hitherto Impossible in Photography is Our Specialty."

Lawrence designed his own large-format cameras and specialized in aerial views. He began by using ladders or high towers to photograph from above. In 1901 he shot aerial photographs from a flimsy cage attached to a captive balloon. Once, while flying more than 200 feet above Chicago, the cage tore from the balloon, hurling Lawrence and his camera to the ground. Fortunately his fall was broken by telephone and telegraph wires; he landed unharmed. Lawrence continued to use balloons until he developed a method of taking aerial views with cameras suspended from unmanned kites. He used this method to take photographs of San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake. These photographs appeared in newspapers around the world and generated more than $15,000 for the photographer.

Lawrence was also renowned for developing a flash powder that permitted indoor banquet photography. His system required flash powder in many locations around a room, sometimes in as many as 350 spots. A single electric charge exploded all the powder, generating more light and less smoke than previous methods.

In the 1910s, Lawrence left the field of photography and pursued a career in aviation design. The Geo. R. Lawrence Company was succeeded by Kaufmann & Fabry, whose work can also be found in this collection.

George N. Barnard (1819-1902)

Little is known about George Barnard's early photographic career. He operated a daguerreotype studio in Oswego, New York, between 1846 and 1853. (Daguerreotypes were the first commercially available photographic process.) In December of 1853, Barnard moved his studio to Syracuse, New York. Despite his great technical expertise, Barnard was forced to close his Syracuse studio in 1857 due to the poor economy.

In 1859, Barnard joined Edward Anthony's photographic firm in New York City as a stereoscopic photographer. Stereographs, the first mass-produced photographs, were a popular form of entertainment for the upper and middle classes. Because stereographs were published and distributed for sale, the publisher, not the photographer, often received credit for the views. We do know that Barnard made stereographs in Cuba, and they were sold by Anthony.

Barnard went on to work for the well-known studio of Mathew Brady, both in New York and Washington, D.C. His duties included studio portraiture as well as non-studio group portraiture of the troops assembled in Washington at the start of the Civil War. His views of Civil War battlegrounds, sometimes taken months after the battles, were widely distributed. Many of his images are included in the Civil War Photographs collection in the Prints & Photographs Division and can be seen online in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog [view catalog records/images].

Barnard is best known for his 1866 book, Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign, which contains 61 albumen prints of Civil War sites such as Nashville, the Chattanooga Valley, Atlanta, and Savannah, as well as other sites associated with General Sherman's command, and one studio portrait of Sherman and his generals.

Barnard continued to photograph after the war, operating studios in Charleston, South Carolina, and Chicago. His Chicago studio was destroyed by the historic fire of 1871. Barnard died on February 4, 1902, in Syracuse, New York.

Frederick W. Brehm (1871-1950)

Frederick Brehm is one of the people credited with developing the Cirkut panoramic camera. Initially manufactured and marketed by the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company, the camera was later manufactured by the Folmer and Schwing Division of the Eastman Kodak Company. In 1906 Frederick Brehm visited Washington, D.C., and made a 360 degree view of the city that was twenty feet long. During this visit to Washington, Brehm also made two smaller panoramic photographs of the city, and later submitted them to the Library of Congress for copyright protection.

Brehm worked at Eastman Kodak and also taught photography at the Mechanics Institute (now the Rochester Institute of Technology).

Miles F. Weaver (1879-1932)

Born in western Pennsylvania in 1879, Miles Weaver prospected for minerals and oil before he became interested in photography. His prospecting career brought him to the Edna/Orcutt oil fields near Santa Maria, California.

Weaver's photographic career began in 1910, shortly after his marriage to Hazle Judkins. Hazle's father, David Roby Judkins, operated a photographic studio in Santa Maria. After his death in December 1909, the Weavers took over operation of the studio. The Weavers moved their studio to Los Angeles in 1916.

Weaver's photographic career was typical of many studio photographers in the early decades of the twentieth century. With the start of World War I, Weaver realized the lucrative business potential of photographing the military troops at various southwestern Army bases and forts. He set up business in San Antonio, Texas, using both a Cirkut panoramic camera and a 4 x 5 Graphlex, while Hazle Weaver oversaw the operation of their Los Angeles studio.

Miles Weaver ran one of the largest banquet and panoramic photography studios in Los Angeles. His work included early Academy Award celebrations, religious revivals, movie publicity stills and bathing beauty pageants. Weaver sent several panoramas of bathing beauty pageants to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Miles Weaver died on March 5, 1932. His wife and two sons ran the business until the 1960s. Unfortunately, when the company was dissolved, all of the negatives and business records were destroyed.


Shortly after the invention of photography in 1839, the desire to show overviews of cities and landscapes prompted photographers to create panoramas. The earliest panoramas were made by placing two or more daguerreotype plates side-by-side. Daguerreotypes, the first commercially available photographic process, used silver- coated copper plates to produce highly detailed images.

The Library's earliest vintage panoramas were taken by George Barnard for the Union Army during the Civil War. Military engineers and generals valued his panoramic overviews of terrain and fortifications. Barnard's panoramas were printed from two or more wet-plate glass negatives that were exposed in a conventional camera. The "wet-plates" had to be coated with an emulsion, sensitized, exposed, and developed in the field while the plates were still wet. After each exposure, the camera was rotated to the next section of the panorama to make a new negative. Upon return to the studio, a print was made from each negative by placing a sensitized sheet of photographic paper on the emulsion side of the negative in a printing frame. The frame was placed in the sun until the prints achieved the desired density. The prints were then fixed, washed, trimmed, arranged, and mounted to form a panoramic photograph.

In the late nineteenth century, cameras were manufactured specifically for producing panoramas. These cameras were either swing-lens cameras, where the lens rotated while the film remained stationary, or 360-degree rotation cameras, where both the camera and the film rotated.

The first mass-produced American panoramic camera, the Al- Vista, was introduced in 1898. The following year Eastman Kodak introduced the #4 Kodak Panoram panoramic camera that proved popular with amateur photographers. In 1911 Sears, Roebuck & Co. sold the Conley Panoramic Camera through their catalog.

Mass-produced panoramic cameras worked on the swing-lens principle, used roll film, and did not need a tripod. Mass-produced panoramic cameras made small panoramas, measuring no more than twelve inches long with a field of view of almost 180-degrees. Developing the film was easy, and the resulting negatives could be contact-printed or used for enlargements. The Czech photographer, Josef Sudek (1896-1976), was a master of the Kodak Panorama camera. He is renowned for his panoramas of Prague. Sudek made contact prints, not enlargements, of his negatives in order to show as much detail and tonal range as possible.

The Cirkut camera was patented in 1904. It used large format film, ranging in width from 5" to 16" and was capable of producing a 360-degree photograph measuring up to 20 feet long. Both the camera and the film rotated on a special tripod during the exposure.

Cirkut cameras were used mostly by commercial photographers to capture city views, group portraits, and special events.


In order to facilitate access to panoramas in the Library, most have been copied as digital images for display with corresponding catalog information. Images and records are available via World Wide Web in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog [go to the Panoramic Photos search page]. (The same images and records are also presented on the Library of Congress American Memory site under "Panoramic Photographs").

Panoramas that measure more than 28 inches in length were included because they are particularly difficult to serve. (Due to research interest in George Lawrence's work, all of the Library's Lawrence photographs have been included regardless of size.) Dimensions, rounded off to the nearest half-inch, are provided for the image area of the panoramas, exclusive of borders or mounts. The digital images can be displayed as thumnails or as jpeg images. The entire image can be viewed by scrolling across the screen. The graphic device or locator bar along the bottom of the screen indicates the position of the visible portion of the image within the larger panorama.

Additional panoramic photographs may be found in the Detroit Publishing Company Collection, which is available online in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, sometimes as full panoramas, and sometimes as individual glass plate negatives that, together, form a panoramic photo [view images/catalog records]. (The Detroit Publishing Company Collection is and is also available through the American Memory site.)


Photographic prints or transparencies can be ordered directly from the Library of Congress, Duplication Services, Washington, D.C. 20540-5230. Order forms, price, and order instructions will be provided on request. Orders for copies must be accompanied by the reproduction number(s) for the desired image or by the call number of the panorama, when no reproduction numbers exist. Because of the large format of many panoramas, it is frequently necessary to copy them in segments. Researchers may need to consult the Duplication Services staff regarding photographing procedures and costs when ordering copies of original panoramas that do not have existing reproduction numbers.


Most images are considered to be in the public domain. Known restrictions are noted in the catalog records. When images are reproduced in a publication, the Library requests that the reproduction number be published with the credit, as in the following example: "Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-4052."



This selected bibliography includes publications that provide historical information about panoramic photography and publications that provide biographical information for photographers represented in the Library of Congress' collection. "P&P" after the call number refers to books held in the Prints and Photographs Division reference collection.

Burleson, Clyde W. and E. Jessica Hickman. The Panoramic Photography of Eugene O. Goldbeck. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. Call number: TR661.B87 1986 [P&P]
   Monograph on Goldbeck, a prolific photographer who worked with a Cirkut camera from the 1910s to 1980s. Beautifully illustrated with many foldout plates.

Caddick, James and Susan Schwartzenberg. "A 360 [Degree] Daguerreotype Panorama of the City by the Golden Gate." The Daguerreian Annual (1992): 104-108. Call number: TR365.D34 1992 [P&P]
   Brief essay on a panorama of San Francisco. A copy photograph of part of this panorama is in the collections of the Prints & Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. It may be accessed on One-Box by typing in the call number: PAN US GEOG -California, no. 235 (E size).

Coe, Brian. Cameras: From Daguerreotypes to Instant Pictures. New York: Crown Publishers, 1978. Call number: TR250.C63 1978 [P&P]
  One chapter of this book is devoted to panoramic cameras. The inner workings of these cameras are well illustrated.

Davenport, Marguerite. The Unpretentious Pose: The Work of E. O. Goldbeck, A People's Photographer. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1981. Call number: TR140.G64D28

Davis, Keith F. George N. Barnard: Photographer of Sherman's Campaign. Kansas City: Hallmark Cards, Inc., 1990. Call number: TR140.B275D38 1990 [P&P]
  Monograph on Barnard, provides extensive biographical information and many illustrations, including Barnard's panoramas of Tennessee taken in 1864.

Fletcher, Stephen J. "A Longer View: Cirkut Photography in Indiana since 1906." Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History (Indiana Historical Society), vol. 3 (Winter 1991):18-31. Call number: Not in LC
  A brief history of panoramic photography, illustrated with foldout plates by Charles F. Bretzman and others.

Hales, Peter B. Silver Cities: The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839-1915. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984. Call number: TR820.5.H33 1984 [P&P]
   Hales discusses the development of city view panoramas, from the daguerreotype process through the work of George Lawrence, illustrated with a few foldout plates.

Hyde, Ralph. Panoramania! :The Art and Entertainment of the "All-Embracing" View. London: Trefoil Publications, 1988. Call number: N8213.H9 1988
  A history of the panoramic format, including panoramic paintings and prints, moving panoramas, panoramic photography, and dioramas.

Johnson, Carol. "Panoramas of Duluth, Minnesota." History of Photography, vol. 16 (Summer 1992):141-146. Call number: TR15.H57 [P&P]
  Discusses two panoramas of Duluth, Minnesota from the collection of the Library of Congress. The panoramas were used to advertise real estate in Duluth during the 1870s.

Klett, Mark. Capital View: A New Panorama of Washington, D.C. San Francisco: Book Studio, 1994. Call number: not yet in LC
  Published in conjunction with an aexhibition at the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Includes accordion fold panorama views of Washington by Francis Hacker, 1875; Frederick Brehn, 1903; and Mark Klett, 1992-1993.

Meehan, Joseph. Panoramic Photography. New York: AMPHOTO, 1990. Call number: TR661.N65 1991
  Primarily a book on panoramic photography techniques. Extensive information about the various types of panoramic cameras currently in use, also contains brief historical information and an extensive bibliography.

Mellon, George. Panoramic Photography. Chicago: Times Printing Co., 1897. Call number: TR661.M52 1897
  Examines how to make panoramic photographs from two or more negatives.

Munday, Harold. "Panoramic Cameras and Panoramic Perspective," Photo-Era, vol. 40 (January, 1918):5-6. Call number: TR1.P63
  Concise explanation of how perspective is rendered by panoramic cameras.

Muybridge, Eadweard and Mark Klett. One City/Two Visions: San Francisco Panoramas, 1878 and 1990. San Francisco: Bedford Arts, Publishers, 1990. Call number: F869.S343M69 1990 [P&P]
  Accordion-fold format, with one photograph on each side. Includes an introduction by Peter Bacon Hales and a brief essay by Klett.

The Panoramic Image. Southampton: John Hansard Gallery, The University, 1981. Call number: TR661.P35 1981 [P&P]
  Exhibition catalog with three essays that discuss the panoramic genre represented through painting, printmaking, and photography.

"Panoramic Photography." The Photo-Miniature, vol. 7 (October 1905):1-12. Call number: MICROFORM 82/900 [T] P62, "History of Photography Microfilm Series"
  Discusses the history of panoramic cameras. (The entire issue of this journal is devoted to panoramic photography.)

Panoramic Photography : Grey Art Gallery & Study Center, New York University Faculty of Arts and Science, New York, New York. New York: The Gallery, 1977. Call number: TR661.G73 1977 [P&P]
  A brief introduction to panoramic photography and a checklist of the exhibition, several illustrations.

Pearce, Joseph N. "Panoramic Photography." The Camera, vol. 8 (October 1904):381-389. Call number: MICROFORM 82/900 [T] P30, "History of Photography Microfilm Series"
  In-depth article on making panoramas from multiple negatives.

Rosenblum, Naomi. A World History of Photography. New York: Abbeville Press, 1984. Call number: TR15.R67 1984 [P&P]
  A brief synopsis of early panoramic photography is provided.

Spira, S.F. "Panoramic Photographs as Nineteenth Century Book Illustrations," History of Photography, vol. 13 (July-September 1989):204-214. Call number: TR15.H57 [P&P]
  Discusses the Pantascopic camera, which used single, glass plate panoramic negatives in the 1860s.

Thomas, W. "Some Practical Notes." The Amateur Photographer, vol. 32 (October 5, 1900):272-274. Call number: TR1.A38
  Describes how to use the No. 1 Panoram manufactured by Kodak.

Prepared by: Carol Johnson, Assistant Curator, Photography, October 12, 1997

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