Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Joshua Crissman: Yellowstone's Forgotten Photographer

By Steven B. Jackson

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1)    What different marketing strategies determined the popularity of William Henry Jackson's photos and the relative obscurity of Crissman's photos and his name?

2)    How did Crissman meet and befriend William Henry Jackson?

3)    Crissman moved around a lot during his lifetime. What evidence do historians have that places him in Bozeman, Montana Territory, or in other places around the West?

4)    How did Crissman come to accompany the Hayden party as a "guest photographer"? What photographic privileges did he have while accompanying the Hayden party?

5)    Who was Thomas Moran, and what is he famous for?

6)    What photographic evidence exists that suggests that Crissman and Jackson may have closely collaborated with each other?

7)    What were the several factors that made it difficult for Crissman and Jackson to shoot photos of geysers?

8)    What evidence does the author use to support his conclusion that "the Bozeman population probably knew more about the Yellowstone region in 1871-1872 than any other local populace in the nation?"

9)    What pieces of evidence place Crissman in Yellowstone during the summer of 1872?

10)    Why is it difficult to document which National Archives/USGS 1871 Yellowstone stereo views should be credited to Crissman?

11)    While Jackson's photos helped to convince Congress to establish Yellowstone National Park, what impact were Crissman's photos having on the future of Yellowstone?

12)    What do you think compelled Jackson to take references to Crissman out of his autobiography, therefore minimizing Crissman's role as a photographer?


-    Research the development of the process of making photographs, from the earliest processes through the modern "instant" Polaroid and digital cameras.  Write a paper and illustrate it with drawings/photos, creating a "pictorial history" of the development of photography.  Or make a photo display of the evolution of photography.

-    Research and write a paper on basic property rights and basic copyright laws from the 1890s and the 1990s. What changes have occurred in the past 100 years?  Which laws protect the rights of the photographer more thoroughly?