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Charles F. Snow photographs

Identifier: COU:1483

Scope and Contents

Charles Snow operated as a profession Boulder photographer between 1910 and 1964. He considered himself the unofficial campus photographer and sold the portion of his collection dealing with the University of Colorado in 1964 to the University. This portion of his collection is located in series 3. Upon Mr. Snow’s death in 1964, the business passed to his wife Edith and son Gordon Snow. They operated the business together until Edith died in until her death on January 1, 1967. Snow’s son continued with his wife Elizabeth until around 1969 when he sold it to Hans Hink. He kept the name Snow Studio of Photography until around 1972. Mr. Hink then donated Snow’s negatives in 1972 and 1984. This part of the collection is located within series 1, 2, 4 and 5. The Charles Snow Photograph collection has had multiple organizational schemes imposed on it over the years.

Series 1 is comprised of three sets of invoice cards. The first and second set of cards have a mix of dates included. The last set of cards are the most recent. Within this series, each card has a stamped number on it that identifies one or more negatives to a portrait session or job. The numbers and names on the invoice cards do not always match what is on the negative. It is possible to find spelling mistakes or incorrect numbers on negatives due to transfer errors by Mr. Snow. In all cases, the invoice card is the final authority. When a numbered negative, with identification, was located without an invoice card, the library staff created one.

In series 2, negatives numbered negatives correspond to the numerical invoicing system in series 1. The Archives received negative numbers starting at 1243 and ending with number 49,770. The lower numbers in the numerical run appear to be the earliest. The material types for this series of the collection include, nitrate, acetate and glass plate negatives, and photographic prints.

Not all negatives have invoice cards and not all negative numbers have invoice cards. Extreme deterioration has forced the Archives to deaccession many nitrate negatives and other negatives never arrived at the Archives. Negative numbers 11,600 through 12,300 are missing along with other large groupings of numbers and some of the earliest glass negatives.

Within this series is the subseries of Chicago Albumen prints and negatives. This subseries is in reference to a preservation project implemented by the Library in 1993. This project produced the digitization of 966 nitrate negative images. Chicago Albumen was a company that specialized in digitizing high-risk photographic formats.

Series 3 includes the portion of the collection purchased from Mr. Snow pertaining to the University of Colorado campus between 1910 and 1945. When received these images were individually cataloged and given “Snow” numbers by the Library staff. There are 1,881 records in this series. Please look under 'Digital Material' to download an item listing for this series, or see the listing here:

Series 4 has images from the Coloradoan. The Coloradoan is the University of Colorado yearbook. These images are in the form of uncut 35mm negatives safety film. The numbering system, which is imprinted within the negatives, does not align with invoice cards.

Series 5 consists of materials that have none of the numbering systems previously mentioned. Images are arranged by subject. Negative types in this series include nitrate, acetate and glass.

Series 6 has biographical information collected by Laurence Paddock. Much of the information comes from Daily Camera articles.

Series 7 is a representative sample of negative packaging containers used at Snow’s place of business.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1908 - 1968


Conditions Governing Access

To access both series 1 and the nitrate negatives of series 2, please go to the CU Digital Library.

To search for series 1, index cards, select the "Category Pages" tab within the Charles Snow Photographs collection and scroll under the "what" column by sitter name. To find photographic images related to sitters, under the "who" column, select "photographer" then search for name in the search box at the top right of the CU Digital Library screen.

Conditions Governing Use

Use gloves with all photographic materials.

Biographical / Historical

Charles F. Snow, A.S.P. was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on May 10, 1886. After graduating high school, he went to work for the Wisconsin Telephone Company as a trouble-shooter, then a telephone engineer for approximately a year. He then spent a year touring the west employed in a variety of positions, one helping in a photography studio in Boulder, CO. It was here that he met Georgie McNaught; and after marrying on July 3, 1910, they bought the studio they both worked at from Charles E. Gosha. She managed the administrative side of the business and he took the pictures. Georgie died November 22, 1948. Mr. Snow remarried on August 13, 1950 to Edith Pendleton. Ms. Pendleton had been working at the studio for 25 years and continued on until shortly before her death on January 1, 1967.

Over his fifty-year career Mr. Snow was a member of the national council of the Photographers’ Association of America; for two years he was the president of the Photographers’ Association of Colorado; and in 1938, he was a member of the American Society of Photographers. In 1940, during the National Association of Photographers meeting, he was a judge. In 1941, he earned the degree of Master of Photography; in 1942, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain; and in 1946, he was elected president of the American Society of Photographers. The reference works “Who’s Who of Portrait Photography” and “Who’s Who in Pictorial Photography” also list Mr. Snow. Charles Snow died March 8, 1964 of a heart attack after delivering a speech at the Rotary Club in Boulder, CO.


118.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



Charles F. Snow came to Boulder in 1908 as a free-lance photographer. By 1910, he purchased the studio of his partner Charles E. Gosha, and specialized in portrait photography. Throughout his early career, Snow considered himself to be the informal photographer of the University of Colorado. The University of Colorado Coloradan published a wide variety of his photographs of the University and its activities from 1917 to the 1930s. In addition, the collection contains negatives and prints of Boulder individuals and scenes.


Series 1, Invoice cards: Mr. Snow arranged the three sets of invoice cards alphabetically by last name or corporate name. Numbers stamped on the cards refer to the negative number within series two. The University of Colorado Library’s Digital Library provides online access to these cards.

Series 2, Photographs and negatives numbered by Charles Snow: The Charles Snow Studio put this numbering file system in place. The numbers refer back to the invoicing cards in series one which provide a link to dates in which the negative was produced and names of those who ordered them. Within this series, it was necessary to remove the nitrate negatives. A condition rating was assigned to each nitrate negative. Each condition rating was grouped from lowest to highest negative number. To aid in the identification of individual negative sheets, negatives numbers with multiple sheets were given an added a decimal point to the number. For example, 6250 is now 6250.01 and 6250.02. Therefore, the base negative numbers might be located in multiple locations due to the condition rating separations. There is limited access to the nitrate negatives. Glass, acetate or prints found within this series were removed and housed separately according to their material type. Only nitrate negatives and items that were originally housed with them have been fully cataloged in this series. Consult the original invoice cards in the online resource to be sure of an accurate search.

Series 3, Photographs and negatives numbered by the Library: Please look under 'Digital Material' to download an item listing for this series, or see the listing here –

Preservation concerns motivated the decision to divide the images within this series by material type. Photographic prints, negatives, glass and copy negatives retained their numbers and numerical arrangement but housed separately.

Subject groupings within this numbered system are loose. Some identified groupings include the following subjects: People arranged alphabetically by last name, then unidentified children, groups, men and women. These are located between numbers 1 and 511; Campus scenes and buildings are located between numbers 512 and 1286; Activities are located between number 1287 to 1396 and 1615 to 1881; Organizations, Fraternities and Sororities are located between numbers 1397 to 1613 and also intermixed between 1645 and 1881

Series 4, Coloradoan 35mm negatives: This group of uncut 35mm negatives are unprocessed and loose within their boxes.

Series 5, Negatives arranged by subject: A current list of this series is in analog form and available upon request. Arrangement is alphabetical within the list. Subject groupings within this series include both campus and non-campus subjects. The non-campus subjects include individuals, Boulder businesses and general photographs. Campus related subjects are individuals, campus scenes, fraternities, sororities, organizations, events and athletics.

Series 6, Biographical information: Original arrangement was retained.

Series 7, Negative container packaging: No arrangement.

Existence and Location of Copies

Part of this collection has been digitized and is available at the Colorado digital library and is available at here.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States