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Title: Katherine Kingsford Panama Canal Photograph Album

Collection Date(s): circa 1904-1914

Extent and Forms of Material: .33 cubic feet, including photographs (1 box)

Creator: Katherine Kingsford

Abstract: An album of photographs of Panama and the Panama Canal, circa 1904-1914.

Repository : Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 202-633-3270

Collection Number: AC1040

Processing Note: Processed by Kiley Orchard (intern), 2008; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.


Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.

Preferred Citation: Title and date of item, Katherine Kingsford Panama Canal Photograph Album, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX



Administrative History : On November 18, 1903, the United States and Panama negotiated the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which granted the U.S. permission to construct a canal that would join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Construction for the Panama Canal began on May 4, 1904. The large workforce -- at its highest population in 1913 it numbered 44,733 men, not including those sick, on leave, or otherwise absent -- had a great impact on Panama. As there were not enough amenities to accommodate them when they arrived, the workers built entire communities, paved streets, improved communication systems, and installed water and sewage systems. Likewise, the railroad was improved for more efficient transportation of supplies, labor, food, and equipment. Much to the credit of Chief Sanitary Officer Dr. William Crawford Gorgas, yellow fever was completely eradicated on the isthmus and malaria cases greatly reduced. Native villages and towns along the planned construction route were required to relocate.

The first self-propelled, ocean-bound vessel traveled on the canal on January 7, 1914, and the canal was formally opened in August of that year. The Panama Canal construction project was the most expensive construction project in United States history to that date, costing $375,000,000.

Scope and Content: The collection consists of a disbound album of photographs relating to the Panama Canal, including a few construction scenes, vessels traveling through the Canal, urban and rural street scenes, housing, hospital scenes, historic buildings, and people. The three inch by three inch photographic prints are mounted on black album paper and most are badly faded and unidentified. Most of the photographs are informal and have the feel of snapshots taken by an amateur photographer. There are a few larger format photographs. Also included is the Official Handbook of the Panama Council, 1913.

System of Arrangement: This collection is arranged in one series.

Series 1, Photograph Album, circa 1904-1914

Acquisition Information: The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History’s Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (now Division of Work and Industry) by Katherine Kingsford in1982. It was transferred to the Archives Center in 2007.

Related Archival Materials: William Currie Photograph Album, Frances Little Panama Canal Scrapbook, Roland A. McCrady Photograph Collection, Robert Dearborn Panama Canal Photonegatives, and W.A. Fishbaugh Panama Canal Photograph Album all feature photographs of the Panama Canal and its construction. The Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection also has several related images. W.P. Stine Panama Canal Papers contains blueprints and construction papers relating to the canal.


Access Points:

Canals -- Panama

Panama Canal ( Panama)

Photograph albums -- 20 th century








Series 1, Photograph Album, circa 1904-1914



Pages 1-20



Pages 21-40



Pages 41-62



Cover of photograph album



Photograph, 1914



Official handbook, 1913





Revised: November 12, 2009