Cowboy Photographer: Erwin E Smith
About Erwin E Smith  Teaching ResourcesCollection Guide



In his effort to document all aspects of cattle country at the beginning of the twentieth century, Smith depicted many miscellaneous subjects that do not fall into the primary categories of the cowboy's daily life. Smith was particularly interested in nesters, who were settlers on small ranches and essentially squatters without legal rights. Originally used by cattlemen as a contemptuous term for farmers who attempted to settle on the open range, "nesters" came to be used when referring to small farming communities. Smith visited and photographed the meager, and sometimes temporary, homes of these families, who unfortunately remain unidentified.

Other notable subjects in Smith's photographs are the early officers of the Cattle Raisers Association of Texas (currently named the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association). Beginning in 1916, his photographs appeared in the organization's official magazine, The Cattleman, many times over the next thirty-one years.

Erwin E. Smith (1886–1947)
A Family of Campers Living in a Tent with Cooking Stove Out in the Open. Through the Tent Flaps a Man is Seated on a Keg at a Table Eating [on the Three Block Range, New Mexico], 1910–20
Gelatin dry plate negative
Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress on deposit at the Amon Carter Museum
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Made possible through generosity of Erwin E Smith Foundation
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