A recent addition to Princeton’s Manuscripts Division and Collections of Western Americana, the Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection contains photographs and related manuscript material that provides a visual record of Silverton, Oregon, and surrounding areas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection contains nearly nine hundred photographs from the Drake Bros. Studio, most with the studio stamp on the back along with detailed manuscript notes by June D. Drake (1880-1969), including dates, identification of individuals, and the names of buildings and streets (many of which no longer exist in Silverton). Photographs dated before 1900 are primarily copies of images taken by William L. Jones and other noted Oregon photographers. The collection may be the working files for Drake’s unpublished history of Silverton and environs. Manuscript material includes notes and newspaper clippings on the history of Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, as well as the Drake and Schoenfeld families.
About June D. Drake and Drake Bros. Studio
Photographers June D. Drake and his brother Emory Roy Drake founded Drake Bros. Studio in 1900 in Silverton, Oregon. Four years later the brothers bought out the business of W. L. Jones, a noted 19th-century Oregon pioneer photographer, and added his negatives to their inventory. The brothers operated together until 1908, when a fire destroyed their studio; very few images were salvaged. June Drake continued to photograph in a new studio until his retirement in 1960. June was also a local historian interested in documenting Silverton history through his images as well as written essays. Several of his local history pieces were published in the Silvertonian and Silverton-Appeal newspapers.
Silverton Falls State Park
Drake was also a vocal advocate for the preservation of Oregon’s natural beauty, and perhaps his greatest achievement was his contribution to the establishment of Silver Falls State Park. Drake photographed all ten of the park’s falls from as early as 1902 and created many travel brochures, pamphlets, and postcards to raise awareness around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest of the need to protect this area from logging. Now covering more than 9,000 acres, Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon, and one of the most popular trails for photographers visiting the park is the Trail of Ten Falls.
A detailed description of the Drake Studios Photograph Archive can be accessed via the Princeton University Finding Aids site: Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection.
2021 Update: online reference images can now be accessed via the Princeton Collections of the American West digital portal or the collection Finding Aid.
Biographical and descriptive text throughout is adapted from the inventory description provided by Kol Shaver and edited by Valerie Addonizio. Finding Aid and folder inventory written by Jameson Creager, Class of ‘2015.