Photographer. Born in La Salle, Illinois, Vroman abandoned a career as a railroad agent and moved to Pasadena, California, in 1893. There he opened a book and photo-supply store and began to pursue his own interest in photography. At first Vroman concentrated on California landscapes and architectural subjects, but between 1895 and 1904 he made eight trips to Arizona and New Mexico, observing and documening on film the local Indian tribes. He concentrated on the daily lives and ceremonial activities of the Hopi and Zuni. His photographic travels also took him to Japan, Yosemite, various European countries, and the Canadian Rockies, but his views of the Southwest are generally recognized as his most significant work.
Mahood. Photographer of the Southwest.
Vroman, Adam Clark. “The Pueblo of Zuni.” Photo Era 7 (August 1901): 59–65. (Reprinted with an introduction by Ruth Mahood in American West 3 [Summer 1966]: 42–55.
Webb, William, and Robert A. Winstein. Dwellers at the Source: Southwestern Indian Photographs of A. C. Vroman 1895–1904. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1973.
Charles Eldredge, Julie Schimmel, and William H. Truettner Art in New Mexico, 1900–1945: Paths to Taos and Santa Fe (Washington, DC: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1986)
A collector of Southwest Indian artifacts and an amateur archaeologist, Vroman took his first trip to the Southwest in 1895, motivated by a desire to see the Hopi Snake Dance. Between 1895 and 1904 he made at least eight trips to Arizona and New Mexico from his home in Pasadena, California, to photograph among the Hopi and Navajo tribes.
In 1899 he accompanied an expedition to the Southwest organized by the Bureau of American Ethnology. According to the Sante Fe New Mexican of July 28, 1899, the purpose was “to visit as many pueblos of New Mexico as possible and to obtain a large and complete series of photographs.” As part of the survey, many of the pueblos were given identifying numbers.
Vroman often turned his camera on the surrounding landscape. Used by the survey, such encompassing views made it possible to prove previous habitation on the mesa. Contrasting the small circle of a corral with the vastness of the land and sky, it is an evocative document.
Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)