A. W. Peters Collection of Fresno County
A self-taught photographer, A. W. Peters (1866-1959) produced a remarkable body of images throughout his lifetime. The glass negative collection numbering over 900 plates was donated by Peters’ son and reproduced in its entirety (archival research prints) in 1979 by Theodoratus Cultural Research. There are two subject areas that are particularly significant in documenting regional history and represent a unique primary resource: a series of images recording the construction of the San Joaquin Electric Company’s first hydroelectric power plant and a group of photographs showing the Mono (Monache) Indians during the same time period.
- In 1895-96, Peters was hired by engineer John Eastwood to photograph the power plant’s construction near the North Fork of the San Joaquin River. He carried his camera everywhere documenting all aspects of the development from the beginning of the ditch/flume system to the holding reservoir and the powerhouse itself to the 34 miles of transmission lines.
- During these months in the Sierra mountains, Peters made friends with the Mono (Monache) Indians and, because of these friendships, he was able to record a series of images detailing their lifestyle during a period of transition. Of particular note are the bark and grass dwellings, basketry, and individual/group portraits.
Other subject categories in the collection include Peters’ views of Fresno City, agriculture, Fresno County schools and class portraits, mountain scenes, logging, and family photos.