This collection contains Cyrus E. Palmer's photograph collection of steamboats and other related subjects.
Cyrus E. Palmer, a University of Illinois Professor of Agricultural Engineering and Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, avidly collected photographs published by Frederick Way Jr.'s Steamboat Photo Company. From 1939 until the mid-1950s, Frederick Way Jr. and J. Woodason Rutter owned and operated the Steamboat Photo Company of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, where they sold photographs of American steamboats and related subjects. A steamboat is any boat that is powered by a steam engine. Types of steam-powered vessels include steam-powered tugboats, showboats, and packets.
The collection is organized into eight series. Series 1, Steamboats, contains photographic prints included in the 1944 edition of Frederick Way's Steamboat Directory. Series 2, Tugboats (mounted), and Series 3, Tugboats (unmounted), contains photographic prints included in the Directory of Steam Towboats of the Mississippi River System, Past and Present, compiled by Frederick Way Jr. in 1946. Series 4, Photographs of Various subjects, includes photographs of steamboats, captains, and other vessels. Series 5, Miscellaneous Photographs, includes photographs of showboats and floating theaters, river scenes, steamboat life, gasboats, and other visual materials. Series 6, Steamboat Photographs, contains photographs not included in Way's Steamboat Directory. Series 7 includes a list of packet companies and Series 8 includes negatives of selected prints.
Cyrus E. Palmer donated this collection to Ricker Library, which transferred it to the Illinois Historical Survey, the predecessor of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit, in 1978.