Nathaniel Fish Moore Photographs

History of the Collection

First Photograph

Columbia started its collection of Moore’s photographic works with an 1854 photograph of the original College Hall at 40 Park Place. According to the label attached to the work, Moore gave the photograph to the College Organist, Dr. W.H. Walker, who then transferred it to the College Library in 1887. 

Mrs. S.C. Jones

A set of Moore’s photographs came to the Columbiana Collection in 1924. According to the Columbia Alumni News, a Mrs. S.C. Jones of New York donated four prints:a view St. John’s Park from Hudson Street, the De Rham mansion on Fifth Avenue at Ninth StreetClement Clarke Moore’s Chelsea House on West 23rd Street, and a self-portrait of the photographer. Mrs. Jones grew up across the street from the Clarke Moores and Nathaniel Fish Moore was a frequent dinner guest at her home. She recalled that the amateur photographer would wear cotton gloves to dinner “because his hands were stained with photographic chemicals.” As was the practice while Robert Arrowsmith was the Columbiana Curator, the images were mounted on cardstock.

William Hodges

The last set of salt prints was donated to the Columbiana Collection in 1944 by William Hodges. He was the grandson of Sarah Ann Moore, who was the sister and frequent travel companion of the photographer, Nathaniel Fish Moore. The Moore family had for generations been very closely tied to Columbia, starting with the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Moore, a graduate of King’s College Class of 1768 who later served as president of both King’s College (1775-1776) and Columbia College (1801-1811). Hodges incorrectly believed that the photographs were the work of William Moore (another great-uncle and also the subject of a portrait) and, because there were some of former Columbia President Moore, he sent the photographs to the Library. Below is the letter, the envelope and a transcription of the letter that accompanied the photos (an unsolicited gift) in 1944. Columbiana Curator Milton Halsey Thomas recognized the earlier salt prints as part of Nathaniel Fish Moore’s work and so the images were added to the collection.

Columbia University Libraries / University Archives / Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-3786 /