Unlike other mass mediums, stereographs fell out of vogue and have never recovered their former significance. As a record of popular culture at the turn of the century, however, they provide us with insight into how a certain segment of the population dealt with and viewed particular anxieties and conflicts in a society shifting from a primarily agrarian to primarily industrial economy. Through various methods that provided a fairly standardized message about labor and industry at the turn of the twentieth century, stereographs helped to naturalize a middle-class audience's notions of how to understand industrialization in America.


Recently, stereographic collections have become more accessible to the general public, most notably through the digitization of images from the largest stereographic archive in the country, the Keystone-Mast Collection (where many of the images on this cite come from). Since the Keystone View Company bought out many other major stereographic publishers, the images in their collection provide an excellent (and voluminous) cross-section of mass-produced stereographs. The Smithsonian's Archive Center has also digitized a large amount of the Underwood & Underwood Collection (which represents what remained after they sold off most of their glass plates to Keystone). These two collections are by far the largest repositories for stereographic images. A number of other libraries have digitized their smaller collections as well. University of Washington's site was most helpful for this project, since they provided both the images and texts on their stereograph cards. The major obstacle in researching stereographs, which many have cited, is dating the images and/or text. By piecing together dates from the Underwood & Underwood collection and publication information from other locations, such as company catalogs, I have been able to approximate dates of a number of images, but this explains the lack of specificity on many. For pre-1900 stereographs, William Darrah's book , still considered the primary authority on stereographs, outlines more sophisticated dating methods.


Appel, Mary Jane. Re-imagining the World: The Historical Implications of the Stereograph. University of New Mexico: M.A., 1995.

Darrah, William. The World of Stereographs. Gettysburg, PA: Darrah, 1977.

DeLeskie, Paul. The Underwood Stereograph Travel System: a Historical and Cultural Analysis.Concordia University: M.A., 2001.

Delivering Views: Distant Cultures in Early Postcards. Christraud M. Geary and Virginia-Lee Webb, ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.

Fowles, Jib. "Stereography and the Standardization of Vision." Journal of American Culture, Summer 1994 v17 n2 p89(5).

Hankins, Thomas and Robert J. Silverman. Instruments and the Imagination. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940. Grover, Kathryn, ed. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.

Jones, John. Wonders of the Stereoscope. New York: Knopf, 1976.

Loke, Margarett. The World as it Was, 1865-1921. New York: Summit Books, 1980.

Points of View: The Stereograph in America-A Cultural History. Earle, Edward, ed. Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1979.

Rayfield, Elizabeth Katheryn. Making Mankind's Acquaintance: Stereographic Viewing and Colonial Domination. University of California, Riverside: M.A., 1994.

Ridgley, Douglas. Teacher's Guide for the Use of the "600 Set" of Keystone Stereographs and Lantern Slides for Visual Instructions. Meadville, PA: Keystone View Company, 1911.

Rowles Stereograph Collection, Louisiana State Museum

Sandvik, Lucy. Things Seen and Unseen: The Stereoscope and the Ambivalence of Modern Vision. University of Southern California: M.A., 1998.

Schaefer, Herwin. Nineteenth Century Modern: The Functional Tradition in Victorian Design. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970.

Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Archives Center Collection of Underwood & Underwood Stereographs and Catalogs

Staebler, James. The Stereograph: The Rise and Decline of Victorian Virtual Reality. M.S. 2000, Ohio University.

The Stereograph and Stereoscope: A Travel System. New York: Underwood & Underwood, 1909.

Trachtenberg, Alan. Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982.

Trachtenberg, Alan. Reading American Photographs: Images as History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans. New York: Hill and Wang, 1989.

Keystone-Mast Collection: University of California, Riverside

University of Washington Stereocard Collection

Wing, Paul. Stereoscopes: The First One Hundred Years. Nashua, N.H.: Transition Pub., 1996.

Choose a 'tour' from the library by clicking on a title Introduction The Stereoscope in America The Great Emancipator The Industrial Sublime Racial Division of Labor Conclusion and Sources