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ROBERTSON, GEORGE

ROBERTSON, GEORGE (?–?). George Robertson was an early photographer who photographed the preparation of buffalo meat and hides for eastern markets, processes that contributed to the near extermination of the American bison. In 1868 he met Austin photographer William J. Oliphant while both men were working in Washington, D.C., in the gallery of noted Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner. They continued to correspond after Oliphant returned to Texas, and in 1872 Robertson moved to Austin, where he worked in Oliphant's Pecan Street gallery. In 1874 he accompanied a buffalo hunting expedition that traveled to Buffalo Gap in Taylor County. Although the cumbersome wet-plate process prevented Robertson from photographing live herds, he did capture shots of hunters skinning buffalos, preparing the meat and hides, and returning to civilization with loaded wagons.

Robertson's photographs of the buffalo hunt were included in Oliphant's popular series of stereoscopic views, "Life on the Frontier." His pictures from a geological survey of Texas were also included in that series. Nothing else is known about Robertson or his activities, although it is possible that he may have operated a photography gallery in Brenham in the late 1870s. The glass negatives for his photographs of the buffalo hunt were discovered some fifty years later by Mabel Brooks, who was searching the home of Max Wolff for photographs of nineteenth-century Austin. Robertson's photographs are in the collections of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and the Smithsonian Institution National Anthropological Archives, Bureau of American Ethnology Collection.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Karen and William R. Current, Photography and the Old West (New York: Abrams, 1978). Walter Prescott Webb, "A Texas Buffalo Hunt with Original Photographs," Holland's, October 1927.

Kendall Curlee

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Kendall Curlee, "ROBERTSON, GEORGE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/frocw), accessed August 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.