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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Timothy H. O'Sullivan

Other: T.H. O'Sullivan 
Other: Timothy O'Sullivan 
Joint: Mathew Brady's Studio 
Dates:  1840 - 1882, 14 January
Born:  Ireland (uncertain)
Died:  US, NY, New York City
Active:  US
He was employed by Mathew Brady during the American Civil War but left to work with Alexander Gardner. He accompanied survey teams into the West and his direct style of landscape photography has left us with a remarkable legacy.
He may have been born in Ireland although at times he claimed he was born in Staten Island, New York. 
Stereographs project 
Business locations 
Washington, DC, US 
[5-7] *Major early worker; wide-ranging & prolific maker of fine views. B. Ireland, 40; active as early as 58; trained by & and worked for Mathew Brady; worked under Alexander Gardner, 62 till end of Civil War; worked with Armstrong & Co. at some point; D. 82. Photog. for the King Expedition, 67-70, 72; photog. with Wheeler Survey, 71, 73-74; "Expeditions of 71, 73-74" series, #'s 1-7, 16-50; "Expedition of 1871", #'s 1-23; "Expeditions of 1873", #'s 1038; "Arizona Series", #'s 1-10, 151; "New Mexico Series", #'s 12-20; "Colorado River Series", #'s 26-30, 136-149; "Geological Series", #'s 32-37; "Indian Series", #'s 40-79; "Historic Series", #'s 81-87; views of Comstock Lode Mines, Virginia City, NV; some pub. By Philp and Solomons. SEE James D. Horan, "Timothy O'Sullivan: America's Forgotten Photographer, 1966. 
T.K. Treadwell & William C. Darrah (Compiled by), Wolfgang, Sell (Updated by), 11/28/2003, Photographers of the United States of America, (National Stereoscopic Association)
Credit: National Stereoscopic Association with corrections and additions by Alan Griffiths and others.
NOTE: You are probably here because you have a stereograph to identify. Please email good quality copies of the front and back to so we can create reference collections for all.

Preparing biographies

Further research

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Alexander Gardner
Timothy O'Sullivan 
1863 (ca)
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Exhibitions on this website

Theme: Scientific
ThumbnailTimothy O'Sullivan: Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian (1871-1874) 
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Theme: War
ThumbnailGardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1866) 
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ThumbnailAmerican Civil War (1861-1865) 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website
The International Photographers Hall of Fame has provided a biography. Go to website

Internet resources

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T.H. O‘Sullivan ... 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.70 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.371-372 
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.224 [Includes a well written short biography on Timothy H. O'Sullivan with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Timothy H. O'Sullivan.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.464 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.205-206 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.256 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.83, 86, 93, 95 
• Naef, Weston 2004 Photographers of Genius at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [For this photographer there is a description and three sample photographs from the Getty collection. p.60-63] 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Timothy H. O'Sullivan are included in this classic history.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.34 [Analyzes a single photograph by Timothy H. O'Sullivan.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Timothy H. O'Sullivan was represented in 75 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
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