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Old West prints by mail or in person in Tucson.

If period photographs of Indians, sheriffs and their deputies, frontier families, and other historic Southwest subjects fascinate you, you should know about the monumental photo archives of the Arizona Historical Society. They are accessible to the public--either by first-hand viewing at the Arizona Heritage Center in Tucson or in part by mail.

The AHS trove includes almost a half-million prints and old postcards taken over the last 110 years. They range from slightly fuzzy snapshots donated as part of family collections to fine 1880s Apache portraits by C.s. and Molly Fly and several hundred exquisite early 1900s pictures of Apache and Pueblo Indians by Forman Hanna. Also noteworthy is Lt. Charles Gatewood's collection of 1870s to 1900 prints documenting the Apache Wars.

Photographers in the Southwest were scarce until the 1870s. By 1875, southern Arizona boasted more than 40. Those early photographers often traveled where the action was, setting up tents as studios. One, Henry Buehman, opened his Tucson studio in 1874. After his death in 1912, his son Albert continued the family tradition until 1951. Today, the archive's tradition and Albert Buehman Collection consists of nearly 200,000 negatives.

First-hand viewing. You can visit the Arizona Historical Society Library at Tucson's Arizona Heritage Center (see address below; hours are 10 to 4 Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 4 Sundays). There you'll find a card catalog for the photo archive, with subjects listed, for example, under indian tribe names, by town, under generic words like "cowboy," under collection names, or under the photgrapher's name.

When you find the shot you want, the darkroom will make a black-and-white print; a 5-by 7-inch print costs $5, an 8 by 10 costs $8, an 11 by 14 runs $15. There will be an additional fee if the picture is to be used for commercial purposes.

Mail-ordering pictures. Write to the library, describing as specifically as possible the kind of photograph you seek. Researchers will send you photostat copies of some choices. Then make your selection and send a check for the prints, plus $2 for postage and handling. Write to the Arizona Historical Society Library, 949 E. Second St., Tucson 85719, or telephone (602) 628-5774. Allow about four weeks for delivery.
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Date:Feb 1, 1984
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