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Gledhill Glass Plate Photograph Collection

 Unprocessed Material — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 1965-232

Content Description

The Gledhill Glass Plate Photograph Collection consists of approximately 12,000 glass plate negative photographs from 1880-1916 taken primarily by N. H. Reed and I. N. Cook, two of the most prolific commercial photographers in Santa Barbara during that period. Acquired at the time that Elizabeth Mason was curator of the Museum's materials, the glass plates were initially stored in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse tower. Then, in 1953, Keith's father, the late W. Edwin Gledhill, decided as curator, to take the plates to his home, Glendessary, for safer keeping. The Santa Barbara Historical Museum acquired this collection from W. Edwin and Andriette Gledhill after the couple was forced to move the glass plates due to a wildfire (likely the 1964 Coyote Fire) approaching the Gledhill home in Mission Canyon where the collection was being stored. In 1977, about half of the plates were brought to the Museum, where Keith selected some to be printed and made available to researchers using the Gledhill Library. Filed by subject, the camera work was done by staff photographer, Bill Dewey, whose salary and supplies were made possible by a grant from the Doris Fay Palmer Trust Fund, administered by Security Pacific Bank. The unprinted plates are also filed by subject. In June 1978, SBHM Director Keith Gledhill reported he was halfway through his organization of the glass photographic plates.

Acquisition Type



Gift of W. Edwin and Andriette B. Gledhill

Restrictions Apply



  • 1880 - 1916



1300 Negatives (Photographs)


The collection came with no inventory. A scanning project begun in 2018 has produced documentation that could be considered an inventory and key for locating individual glass plate negatives. (See External Documents for link to the digital scans.)