Sticking with Arizona resources, the University of Arizona Institutional Repository (UAiR) provides a diverse collection of images, books, documents and maps from the university’s students, staff and faculty. Contributing to the UAiR’s rich content, former University of Arizona president and most intriguing fellow, is Dr. Homer L. Shantz (1876-1958). Prior to serving as the University of Arizona president, Dr. Shantz’s lifelong career was as a prominent American botanist and avid photographer. The combination of these two passions (botany and photography) resulted in a breathtaking body of work. While Shantz focused on vegetation, soil, and landscapes, he was also instrumental in photographic documentation used to record vegetation change over time. Through revisiting sites decades later, partly through the collaboration of other researchers after Shantz’s death, he documented environmental change brought on by earthly afflictions such as climate shifts and human impact.
Dr. Shantz traveled the world extensively, most notably with an expedition to Africa and his focus on the American West. Homer photographed not only the subject of his research, but also the many aspects of his journey to reach the abundant varieties of flora. Architecture, transportation, indigenous people and their diets consisting of native plants, were of interest to Shantz. While working for the USDA’s Bureau of Plant Industry, Shantz participated in an African expedition from 1919 to 1920, funded by the Smithsonian Institute. The fascinating and methodical 3,500 images from this African expedition and complete detailed travel journal are available to view UAiR website. The remainder of Shantz’s photographic research is also included in the collection, creating an extensive digital archive of 6,500 images.
Below is less than a snippet from Dr. Homer L. Shantz’s lifelong pursuit of botanical photographic documentation.
The man himself, Homer L. Shantz.
The symmetrical presentation of local fruits and vegetables is most appealing to the eye.
Through Homer’s lens, even dirt is beautiful.
Sharp edges growing on opposite sides of the world.
The forest comes in all shapes and sizes.
Homer’s obeservations of African women.
Homer L. Shantz was a keen observer of both plants and people alike. Looking at the notes to the following pictures, Shantz was perceptive to the disproportionate workload of the women he encountered in Africa. In the last photo here, Shantz witnessed the dubious marriage of a Belgian man to a Congolese woman as he was sure to note his firsthand account of the acquisition.
Description: A photo of two women returning from manihot field – baskets on head. Shows type of hoe, manihot, machete and basket. All agriculture is done by women – men occasionally help. [Shantz travel journal, Feb. 22, 1920]
Description: One of the agriculturists carrying water from a dirty muddy big open well about 15 ft. across. These women do all the work. She has a 5 gallon petrol can on her head full of water. [Shantz travel journal, Jan. 5, 1920]
Description: Man and wife in Congo. Saw him pick her out. [Shantz travel journal, Jan. 7, 1920]
Visit here for the full Homer L. Shantz for the full collection : http://uair.arizona.edu/
Visit here for the curated exhibit “Photographs of Homer L. Shantz, from the Smithsonian African Expedition