Lawrence and Houseworth


The Lawrence & Houseworth Database
A database of 1,495 historical photographs of California and Nevada reproduced from three catalog albums created during the 1860s by the renowned stereoview publishing firm of Lawrence & Houseworth.

The Lawrence and Houseworth Albums
“Scenes of Wonder & Curiosity”
In a confluence of forces unique in time and place, California after 1849 played host both to the growth of a new and exciting landscape and culture and to important developments in the world’s newest visual medium: photography. Among the most significant practitioners of this new art was the San Francisco firm of Lawrence & Houseworth, established in 1852. For some forty years the firm was the premier source in the West for landscapes, portraits and stereographs. Its three-volume set of images, used for the selection of prints by its customers, is one of the treasures of the rich collections of The Society of California Pioneers. The albums are, in the words of Gary Kurutz, ”without doubt the finest single pictorial record of the maturation of Northern California and the Pacific Coast following the rambunctious days of the Gold Rush and statehood.”

Thomas Weston Fels
Co-author, Watkins to Weston: 101 Years of California Photography

The Lawrence & Houseworth Albums Online
Funding for this project was generously provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services from 2003-2004 under the provision of the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) administrated by the State Librarian.

For questions about specific images on this website, including reproduction requests, please contact The Society of California Pioneers. For contact information see Rights and Reproductions below. If you’re interested in learning more about Lawrence & Houseworth click here for additional sources.

For the most authoritative source on Lawrence & Houseworth see Points of Interest; California Views 1860-1870, the Lawrence & Houseworth Albums (Berkeley Hills Books & SCP, 2002) and Peter E. Palmquist’s Lawrence & Houseworth; Thomas Houseworth & Co., A Unique View of the West 1860-1886 (National Stereoscopic Association, 1980).

Rights and Reproductions

Please note: requests for permission to use/reproduce images from our Lawrence & Houseworth collection can be made after MAY 1, 2018; requests for information about other images in our collection (and/or inquiries about securing permission to use/reproduce those) can be made after August 1, 2018.


Susan Haas
Project Manager

Deborah Lorhke

Amy Boyd
Scanning and Photoshop Technician

Website and Database

Special thanks to Peter E. Palmquist (1936-2003) for his scholarship on Lawrence & Houseworth.

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