William Wallace Tooker Photo Collection

253 Pheasant Drive
Healdsburg CA 95448

William Wallace Tooker

 Photography Collection


This Website

This website is specifically dedicated to the photographic work of William Wallace Tooker to include a general overview of his life. The website content represents one person, who is interested in photography and history, presenting the photographs and an evaluative perspective of another person photographs who was interested in photography and history. As indicated on the informational pages there is inadequate reference material to specifically present an authoritative view on Tooker's photographic work. The website is intentionally incomplete as it designed to evolve into a "Tooker" resource center inclusive of the prioritized goals referenced in Future of the Collection page. The site is also a forerunner to a proposed website on Tooker's life and accomplishments. For those viewers not familiar with Tooker and/or early eastern Long Island history I encourage you to enlighten yourself with all the information available in libraries, museums, books and many on line sources. 

The collection of photographs are presented in various stages for the viewing audience to provide an understanding of the sometimes complex conditions and situations the reproduction process can be. 

World Viewing Audience

This is an individual and private photo collection website about early American life on the eastern tip on Long Island, New York (USA) from 1880-1900. (Suggest you Google Maps "Sag Harbor, New York" for location).  The photo collection is a very unique glimpse of the dawning of new society using the photographic record. The inclusive "Windmill" collection images consists of a colony of English smock mills, with one dating to 1795, highlighting that  mankind's mechanical ability reached a pinnacle in windmill technology during this period. Derived from English architecture, engineering and craftsmanship some of the windmills are preserved and in working condition. Admirably and with apprecation, the forward thinking model of the local east end windmill guardians is preservation.

Tooker Project

The "Tooker Photo Project" is and has been an independently funded endeavor for 40 years with the website serving as catalyst to fulfill the mission and vision of finally presenting Tooker's images to a world audience via large format reproductions and the public avenues of libraries, museums, historical societies, universities, associations and other interested depositories. It has been a sincere mission of purpose, patience, timing and available funding. Currently, the creating of master digital files for reproduction for large format prints, limited editions and publishing purposes has commenced. See articles listed below from the East Hampton Star, East Hampton, NY. with many thanks for it's coverage over the years.

  • A View of Montauk, 1976. A view of the Montauk Lighthouse circa 1883 from the Tooker Photo Collection.
  • Kevin J. McCann, Photographer,1977. A full page article about the various projects in process when the mill fire occurred. Photographs by the writer Jack Graves show myself and large format Tooker prints.
  • Kevin J. McCann, About Carl Fisher,1988. A full page article about the Carl Fisher Project and a proposed film entitled "Playground" about his incredible life.
  • Revisiting Images of Many Years Ago, 2000. The article is about senior writer Russell Drumm accompanying me to what is known as Split Rock in Hither Woods, Montauk, NY.  The rock was known as a meeting place and milestone marker on the original Indian trails in Hither Woods which is why Tooker apparently wanted to have his photo taken standing next to it. The photo shows the original glass plate back at the same location 116 years earlier.
  • 1800's Photographic Odessey, 2010. The writer describes the first time that the Tooker Photo Collection images were being presented in it's entirety at the Clinton Academy sponsored by the East Hampton Library Long Island Collection and the East Hampton Historical Society.


To have Tooker acknowledged and recognized for his photographic work by presenting his work to a world audience.


To see William Wallace Tooker Photographic Collection exhibits throughout the U.S. and large format prints hanging in businesses, private homes, corporate offices, libraries and museums.

Large Format Approach

There is no replacement for a large format photograph professionally printed, appropriately framed and prominently placed.  For Tooker to be recognized and appreciated through the generations the large format prints and limited editions are the best avenue. The 30 x 40 "best of collection" images have a commanding presence and will be the focal point in any setting. As there are only a handful of Tooker originals (approximately 6" x 8") in private collections, museums or libraries the reproductions provides the opportunity for others to own a fine art "Tooker" photograph at a very reasonable cost. Tooker would agree.

I am enthusiastic about this project today because of the technological capability to actually enhance the print image quality beyond the large format exhibition prints from 1977. The Tooker large format fine art prints captivate the imagination and are of rare historical significance. The 30 x 40 size print provides a sense of presence when the photograph was taken and the opportunity to clearly study the information and let the story unfold.

The following predictive statement by a world renown photographer and master print maker presents the foundation behind the logic to digitize glass plate negatives and produce fine art prints.

"I eagerly await new concepts and processes. I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them. There's no end in sight. Electronic photography will soon be superior to anything we have now. The first advance will be with the exploration of existing negatives. I believe the electronic processes will enhance them. I could get superior prints from my negatives using electronics. Then the time will come when you will be able to make the entire photograph electronically. With the extremely high resolution and the enormous control you can get from electronics, the results will be fantastic. I wish I were young again."  - Ansel Adams, Playboy, May 1983

The Indian Girl

The painting of the Indian girl that opens this website represents and illustrates, at least to me, Tooker's legacy as a friend of the indigenous people namely the Montauketts and Shinnecocks. As mentioned in the Photographer page this relationship is reflective of his personality and thus his approach to photography. The partial, circa 1850 painting, as it was cut out of an original and exists alone, measures 6" x 4", has been hanging in my various residences for 36 years. In the summer 1975 as it laid alone with other small memorabilia in a small antique shop showcase in Wainscott, New York I purchased it for $3.00. Despite efforts to identify the artist that name remains unknown.

The facial skin tones and soft glow lighting on and around the young girl have a romantic feel. She is special. The image projects a sense of respect and dignity yet the askance forlorn look is one of concern, disbelief and sorrow. The adorned princess bejeweled with local pearl-like shells, groomed raven hair lightly flowing, appears bewildered and sad. As discussed on the Photography page I believe Tooker had an authentic respect for the Montauketts to not take their photograph or capture their "spirit".  I realize for the reader to understand this perspective one needs a more thorough understanding about Tooker which is briefly related on this website. However to get a feel of this perspective I have long matched the painting with one of Tooker's images and poems. The image reveals two Indian burial stones in the foreground. (See Comparison Photos).

Aristist Unknown circa 1850

Fort Pond ( Quanuntowunk) July 15,1898

Tooker wrote in 1885 after a visit to the Fort Hill burial site with friend and fellow traveler Dr. Stilwell

" Under the ground they sleep in vain,
They shall not wake to life again,
Till their molding bodies crumbled away,
Hear the call of Judgment Day."

Tooker again wrote in an newspaper article in March 22, 1888

"… a visit to the site and to the home of the Montauks well repays one. The very air seems to be full of their traditions. On almost every hand can be seen reminders of their footsteps. Not one of full blood now treads the slopes of the "hilly land."

"There is no country like Montauk's rude isle;
Strange are its rolling hills, its valleys' smile,
Its trees lone dying in their ancient place,
As if in sorrow for a dying race;
Strange is its verdant sod, unbreaking wide,
Through the deep vales, and on the hills broad side."

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