Expansive Collection of Historic Arizona Photographs Uncovered

"Will and James McCulloch Next to Flatbed Truck During Midwinter Carnival,"The ASU Libraries is proud to present the McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs Collection , a collection of over 4,562 digitized images of Arizona, taken between 1884 and 1947. These engaging images feature locations in and around Phoenix at a time of transition from cowtown to emerging metropolis.

Scottish Immigrants James Morrison McCulloch (1870-1945) and William Patrick McCulloch (1880-1971) owned a well known commercial photography studio whose work appeared in many different books and magazines. Their business and agency clients put them in key locations to visually document Arizona history. For the first time these photos can be found on Google or Bing, as well as Library One Search, and are available via the ASU Digital Repository. As open documents, users can download these high-resolution photographs and reuse them however they want for free. As a result, these photos can truly be integrated into someone’s research.

The McCulloch collection is one of the most extensive collections of Phoenix photography covering the first half of the twentieth century.  Check out early Phoenix street scenes like this one showing the view from the County Courthouse in 1929:

View of Phoenix from the County Courthouse, 1929

The photos show the similarities of then and now. In the photograph below, James Cagney fans await his next adventure in “Captain of the Clouds.” at the Orpheum Theatre in 1942. How many of their grandchildren lined up for Star Wars at the Cine Capri 34 years later?

"Marquee for the Orpheum Theatre During the Showing of "Captains of the Clouds," 1942

Below is an image depicting the first water over the spillway of Roosevelt Dam in 1915. one of the most famous of all the McCulloch Brothers photographs.  All roads from the dam were closed so a motorcyclist could take the plate back to Phoenix to develop it.

"First Water Over the Spillway of Roosevelt Dam," 1915


Check out the construction of Frog Tanks Diversion Dam, Lake Pleasant guest ranches and resorts, Roosevelt Dam and the Apache Trail.  The collection captures the quintessential Arizona experience from cotton and citrus fields to landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Wigwam Resort, and the Arizona Biltmore. You might even find an early photo of your high school.

We invite you to the collection and discover Arizona in a whole new way. A guide to this collection can be found at Arizona Archives Online. Additional photographs taken by James and Will McCulloch are listed in the guide at  CP SPC 153: McCulloch Family Photographs, 1890-1974.


Note:  The original McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs were donated to Arizona State University in 1978 as part of the Herb and Dorothy McLaughlin Photograph Collection. ASU acquired the intellectual property of the collection in 2007 as a result of an agreement with the McLaughlin family.

Written by:  Matthew Harp