O'Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882

Alternative names
Birth 1840
Death 1882

Biographical notes:

Timothy O'Sullivan was an early Western photographer. He served with Clarence King on the United States Geological Explorations of the Fortieth Parallel in 1867.

From the description of Timothy O'Sullivan photograph, 1988. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 367900033

Timothy O'Sullivan (1840-1882) began his photography career as an apprentice to Mathew Brady, but he left the Brady gallery to photograph American Civil War battlefields on his own. In 1862 or 1863, he joined the studio of Alexander Gardner, who included forty-four of O'Sullivan's photographs in Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, the first published collection of Civil War photographs. His experience photographing in the field earned him a position as photographer for the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, the first survey of the American West. He returned to Washington, D.C., in 1874 and made prints for the Army Corps of Engineers. Soon after being made chief photographer for the United States Treasury in 1880, O'Sullivan died of tuberculosis at age forty-one.

From the description of O'Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10568234

Several surveying expeditions funded by Congress were undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1869 and 1879, for the purpose of gathering data upon which to base a detailed topographic map. The expeditions were directed by Lt. George Montague Wheeler, and covered 359,065 square miles, including area within the states of New Mexico, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, and Texas. In addition to the detailed topographic surveys, initial astronomic or geodetic points were established in Nebraska, Montana, and Washington Territory. These surveys are informally referred to as the Wheeler Survey.

From the guide to the Timothy O'Sullivan, "Indian Pueblo, Zuni, N.M." Photograph, 1873, (University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research)

American photographer.

From the description of Papers, 1868-1873. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 42584203

  • 1840: Born in Ireland
  • circa 1856 - 1861 : Apprenticed under Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner
  • 1861 - 1865 : Photographed the Civil War, sometimes for Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner
  • 1872: 1867 - 1869 : Photographed for the King Expedition
  • 1870: Became photographer for the Darien Survey, which explored possible routes for the Panama Canal
  • 1871: 1873 - 1875 : Photographed for the Wheeler Expedition
  • 1880: Appointed official photographer for the U.S. Treasury Department, but retired shortly thereafter for health reasons
  • 1882 Jan. 14: Died at West Brighton, Staten Island, N.Y.

From the guide to the Timothy H. O'Sullivan Photographs, 1868-1873, (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)


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Ark ID:


  • Discoveries in geography--American
  • Pueblos--Photographs
  • Photographers
  • Geology--Fieldwork
  • Canyons--Photographs
  • Indians of North America--Dwellings--Photographs
  • Pueblos--New Mexico


  • Photographers


  • United States (as recorded)
  • Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico) (as recorded)
  • Fortymile Desert (Nev.) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Nevada (as recorded)
  • Arizona (as recorded)
  • Grand Canyon (Ariz.) (as recorded)
  • Apache Lake (Ariz.) (as recorded)
  • Southwest, New (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Southwest, New (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • Carson Sink (Nev.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Zuni (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • Zuni (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)