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)