University of Texas at Austin

IN EARLY 1934, A TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHER arrived in Corpus Christi, Texas, searching for businesses that would pay him to take pictures of their establishments. Part photographer, part salesman, he combed the streets of the city, going door to door and offering his services. Leaving town after only a few weeks, he abandoned his glass plate negatives with a local photographer because they no longer had any commercial value to him.

The images portrayed a wide range of businesses operating in Corpus Christi, which was relatively prosperous in the midst of the Great Depression, including those in the agricultural industry (seed companies, mill and elevator companies, etc.), retail and wholesale businesses (auto dealers, candy shops, grocery stores, etc.), city and county government offices, manufacturing businesses (blacksmiths, ice plants, etc.), and those offering numerous types of services, such as automotive, legal, medical, and personal (barber and beauty shops, laundries, tailors, etc.).

The Harry Ransom Center received the Itinerant Photographer collection as part of the acquisition of work by Dr. John F. "Doc" McGregor, a Corpus Christi chiropractor-turned-photographer. McGregor had obtained the photographs from another Corpus Christi photographer named George Tallmadge, in whose studio the itinerant photographer had developed and abandoned his negatives.

Until now, access to the Itinerant Photographer collection was limited, resulting from the fragility of the collection material and its uncataloged status. A typed inventory containing item-level descriptions and modern copy prints of all 473 negatives was available but only to onsite users in the Ransom Center's Reading and Viewing Room. And while a selection of images from the collection was published in Sybil Miller's Itinerant Photographer: Corpus Christi, 1934 (University of New Mexico Press, 1987), this book has long been out of print. In keeping with the Ransom Center's mission to advance the study of the arts and humanities by preserving and making accessible creations of our cultural heritage through the highest standards of cataloging, conservation, and collection management, the Center has now constructed this website as a portal to the Itinerant Photographer collection. It is intended to serve as an introduction to the collection and its imagery, and a fully searchable gallery of the 473 glass plate negatives provides a comprehensive exhibition of this physically fragile collection. All the imagery on this website was produced directly from the glass plate negatives.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

The research, design, and construction of this website was funded by a TexTreasures grant made possible by a generous grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

This website portal was produced by the staff of the Harry Ransom Center, including:
David Coleman, Curator of Photography
Mary Alice Harper, Photographic Archivist
Nicole Davis, Assistant to the Photographic Archivist
Christopher Jahnke, Technology Librarian
Daniel Zmud, Webmaster
Elana Farley, Graphic Designer

Questions and inquiries regarding this site and all rights and permissions concerning its imagery and contents may be addressed to:

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs on this site were taken by an unknown itinerant photographer.

Public Domain Mark
The original materials in the Itinerant Photographer collection are free of known copyright restrictions. For information about publishing images from the collection please contact the Ransom Center.

  Muttera's Federal Bakery

Muttera's Federal Bakery

Unidentified grocery

Unidentified grocery