A Look Into the Past

In History, Photography
Ansel Adams 1932 by Charles Webber

O'Shaunessy Dam. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

O’Shaunessy Dam June 1st, 1948. Photo by Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences.

Charles Webber was a member of the California Academy of Sciences and the Sierra Club. He was an amateur botanist and photographer who took pictures of California flora from the 1930s to the 1960s. What makes his photos special is that they are part of the Manzanita Image Project at the California Academy of Sciences.

Sunset at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

Visitors listen to a park ranger during a sunset presentation at Glacier Point. Date unknown. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

The Manzanita Image Project is a collection of photos donated to the California Academy of Sciences, digitally scanned and stored on the University of Berkley Digital Library Project where everyone can see them. What’s great about the collection is that most of the photos are from the last century and give us the unique opportunity to see Yosemite before the environmental movement of the 1960’s changed the way we think about our planet and how our National Parks have changed.

Yosemite National Park, Rocky Point. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

A family having breakfast in Yosemite. Date unknown. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences.

Take for instance the top image of O’Shaunessy Dam taken in June 1948. The photo clearly shows the overflow spillway in use. Something I’ve never seen. Not even during the 1997 floods which destroyed the road into Yosemite Valley and flooded most of the Valley.

Or this very rare image of Ansel Adams from 1932.

Ansel Adams, 1932. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

Ansel Adams on a Sierra Club pack trip, 1932. Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences

All of the photos by Charles Webber courtesy California Academy of Sciences Manzanita Project used by permission.

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