Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

The Calvin Wheat Collection:

An Inventory of his Records at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Descriptive Summary

Creator Wheat, Calvin
Title Calvin Wheat Collection
Inclusive Dates 1915 - 1917
Identification MSS 64
Extent 2 lin. ft.: 1 document box
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Biographical Note

Calvin Wheat was the premier photographer in Houston during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Mr. Wheat’s studios commercial studio was located at 415 Louisianna and his portrait studio was office number 2111 in the Esperson Building. He was successful in both undertakings.

Little has been documented about his personal life, however much can be noted from the man’s rich career which was lauded when he was recognized for his aerial photography of Houston in 1919. Reportedly in 1928 the photographs startled those unfamiliar with Houston and promoted the city to the outside world.

Mr. Wheat was widely well known for his commercial photography, which had identifiable characteristics particular to his work. His photographs appeared regularly in newspapers, magazines and broadsides. The contract merchandise varied from cosmetics, to flour, to racing automobiles and locomotives. Mr. Wheat could always be counted on creating a visually creative framework for advertising text that would catch the eye of the reader. Mr. Wheat’s local work brought him to the attention of the representatives of the Associated Press covering the 1928 National Democratic Convention held in Houston that year. Despite having their own photographers on location, Mr. Wheat was commissioned by the press to photograph the Convention.

In 1928 the Calvin Wheat Studios was estimated as having the second largest volume of business in Texas. Mr. Wheat employed 14 skilled workers and the two studios valued at over $25,000. Seven darkrooms with innovative equipment were allocated for film development.

Scope and Contents

The Calvin Wheat Collection contains photographic works from Mr. Wheat's personal collection. Many of these photographs are relevant to Houston history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to photographs, Mr. Wheat's personal records are part of the collection. The documents contained in the collection reflect Mr. Wheat's interest in photography and photographic equipment.



The collection is organized primarily by format. The photographs are contained in scrapbooks, frames and also appear loose. The photographs are either described in subject categories or described at the item level. The personal records are contained together in one folder. Each personal document is described at the item level.
Series 1: Scrapbooks
Series 2: Photographs
Series 3: Framed Photographs
Series 4: Studio Framed Photographs
Series 5: Personal Records


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Calvin Wheat Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Advertising photography
Bayous Texas
Camp Logan (Houston, Tex.)
Cityscapes 1900-1920.
Military camps--United States.
Military parades & ceremonies 1900-1920.
Photographers--Texas--20th century
Photographic historians
Battlestein's Department Store (Houston, Tex.)
Houston Ship Channel (Tex.)
Menger Hotel (San Antonio, Tex.)
Rice Hotel (Houston, Tex.)
Rice University
Buffalo Bayou (Tex.)
Sylvan Beach (La Porte, Tex.)
Other Names
Grafton, Gilbert C.
Hobby, William Pettus, 1878-1964

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The Calvin Wheat Collection. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: Richard A. Wheat. October 5, 1977.

Processing Information

Processed by: Charles Stephenson, July 2006.

Detailed Description


Series 1: Scrapbooks

Subseries 1.1: Scrapbook Photographs, General
Box Book
1 1
Personal photographs or portraits
River or bayou scenes
Cities or towns
Buildings and churches
Houston ship channel
Storm damages, 1915
Subseries 1.2: Scrapbook Photographs, Itemized
Box Book
2 2
Loose photograph: Military parade: soldiers on horseback in front of Rice Hotel, Houston
Page 1: Camp Logan scenes
Page 2: Military scenes
Page 3: blank
Page 4: Military parade between Camp Logan and Houston
Pages 5, 6 & 7: Military parade in Houston; Caption: “when Governors Landing and Holly reviewed. Nov. 1917
Page 8: Governor Hobby and Governor of Illinois; Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert C. Grafton, 164th Infantry on Rifle Range, Camp Greene, North Carolina; Gov. Hobby shaking hands with “boys from back home”
Page 9: Military scenes: military camp; Calisthenics; rifle range
Page 10: military parades; camp scenes
Page 11: “One of our Monster Guns, a British Official Photograph from the Western Front”
Page 12: Military caravan: soldiers astride six-team horses pulling military wagons
Page 13: Soldiers; caption: “A few of the reserves waiting to go up. Taken early in the morning”
Page 14: Photo 1: Personal photographs: Admiral Sir David Beatty, G. C. B., K.C.V.O., D. S. O.; Photo2: A naval officer “looking through the periscope of a British Submarine”
Page 15: Photo 1: Twelve-inch mortar in action at Fort Casey, Washington; Specific details at bottom of photograph; Photo 2: Enlisted men carrying a large American flag on parade; Photos 3-5: Military training scenes
Page 16: Photo 1: Soldiers and military tents on lawn of courthouse; Photos 2 & 3: military scenes
Page 17: Photos 1 & 2: military parade; Photo 3: military scene; Photo 4: Soldier wearing gas mask
Page 18: Military scenes
Page 19: Military scenes
Page 20: Military scenes
Page 21: Landscapes, no identification
Page 22: Photo 1: Battleship; Photo 2: Houston ship channel; Photo 3: Unidentified building: Photo 4: Houston Post Office; Photo 5: Cityscape, Houston; Photo 6: Bayou, unidentified
Page 23: Landscapes and flowers
Page 24: Photo 1: Houston Ship Channel; Photo 2: Landscape; Photo 3: Houston industry; Photo 4: Rice University; Photo 5: Cityscape, City of Houston Photo 6: boat on a bayou
Page 25: Photo 1: Unidentified child; Photo 2: Automobile race; Photo 3: Two men playing golf
Page 26: Photo 1: Deer in a forest; Photo 2: Man on horseback taking a photograph: Photos 3 & 4: Baseball game
Page 27: Photo 1: Baseball game: runner near being tagged out: Photo 2: Unnamed child; Photo 3: Boat; Photo 4: Group photograph; Photo 5: Wrecked airplane
Page 28: Photo 1 & 2: Snow scenes; Photo 3 & 4: “Vote for Women” sign on a “snow woman”; Photo 5: “Snow owl” at Rice University; Photo 6: Snow scene at Camp Logan; Photo 7: Three persons standing in snow
Page 29: Photo 1: Four snow scenes
Page 30: Buffalo Bayou at Main Street, Houston; Photo 2: Night photograph of a Houston street; Photo 3: Dark pollution cloud rising in the distance
Page 31: Snow scenes: Photo 1: People walking in a park near an automobile; Photo 2: Buildings in central business district; Photo 3: Two persons on sled being pulled by Eureka Laundry delivery truck; Photo 4: Street scene; Photo 5: Students at Rice University
Page 32: Photos 1-4: Airplanes
Page 33: Photos 1-4: Snow scenes in Houston Central Business District; Loose photograph: Military tents surrounding Harris County Courthouse
Page 34: Photos 1-4: Snow scenes of people in Houston Central Business District
Page 35: Photos 1 & 2: Snow scenes: people on street in front of Thompson’s in Central Houston Business District; Photo 3: Unidentified soldier and a nurse; Photo 4: Two unidentified men on Houston sidewalk during a snowstorm
Page 36: Photos 1-4: Group photos of unidentified persons; Photo 5: Photo of airplane flying overhead
Page 37: Photo 1: Unidentified pilot in airplane; Photo 2: Man sitting beside a river; Photo 3: Camp Logan; Photo 4: Houston snow scenes
Page 38: Photo 1: Unidentified beach scene; Photo 2: Long, unidentified building; Photo 3: First Methodist Church, Houston; Photo 4: Train trestle across Galveston Bay; Photo 5: Beach scene, unidentified
Page 39: Photo 1: Unidentified Army nurse; Photo 2: Snow scene in a park: automobile and people walking; Photo 3 & 4: Group photograph, no identification
Page 40: Photo 1: Street scene: elephants on parade on a crowded street; Photo 2: Landscape photograph, no identity; Photo 3: Ship on Houston Ship channel; Photo 4: Steamboat, unidentified; Photo 5: Water scene, unidentified. Loose photo: Airplane in the air


Series 2: Photographs

Box Photo
3 MSS 64.1 Biplane in flight
MSS 64.2 Unidentified boy and girl
MSS 64.3 & MSS 64.4 Biplane
MSS 64.5 Clouds from cockpit of airplane
MSS 64.6-MSS 64.12 Airplanes
MSS 64.13 Aerial photograph
MSS 64.14 Airplane squadron
MSS 64.15 & MSS 64.16 Airplanes
MSS 64.17 Castle, no identification
MSS 64.18 Car race
MSS 64.19 Unidentified woman
MSS 64.20-MSS 64.21 Airplanes
MSS 64.22 Unidentified man beside an automobile
MSS 64.23 Aerial photograph of an airport
MSS 64.24 Wrecked airplane
MSS 64.25-MSS 64.29 Airplanes
MSS 64.30 Trench, World War I
MSS 64.31 Airplane
MSS 64.32 Aerial photograph of an airport
MSS 64.33 Aerial photograph of bombed buildings; no identification
MSS 64.34 Soldier running toward a trench
MSS 64.35 Aerial photograph
MSS 64.36 Chateau Thierry, Aerial photograph
MSS 64.37-MSS 64.39 Aerial photographs, City and sites not identified
MSS 64.40 Chef, cutting meat; no identification
MSS 64.41-MSS 64.55 Unidentified people: couples & groups
MSS 64.56 Destroyed building
MSS 64.57-MSS 64.62 People at Sylvan Beach, Las Porte, Texas
MSS 64.63 Military parade in Houston: soldiers walking beside horses
MSS 64.64 Airplane
MSS 64.65 Army buildings under camouflage
MSS 64.66 Man in mid-air, descending by parachute
MSS 64.67 Landscape photograph
MSS 64.68 Waterfall, site not identified
MSS 64.69 Statue; no identification
MSS 64.70 Group photograph
MSS 64.71 Accident site where dredge struck causeway
MSS 64.72 Chef, no identification
MSS 64.73 & MSS 64.74 Group in automobile; inscription: “Houston Optical Gang, Nov. 11, 1918; Peace”
MSS 64.75 Group photograph; no identification
MSS 64.76-MSS 64.78 Landscape photographs, no identification
MSS 64.79 Portrait photograph, unidentified man
MSS 64.111 Unidentified man
MSS 64.112 Swimming at Sylvan Beach, La Porte, Texas
MSS 64.113 Unidentified soldier in a tent
MSS 64.134 Photographic portrait of unidentified woman
MSS 64.182 Child
MSS 64.217 Two men
MSS 64.225 Airplane in flight
MSS 64.226 Group photograph, Calvin Wheat in group


Series 3: Framed Photographs

Box Photo
3 MSS 64.80 Photographic Portrait: Calvin Wheat in his late 30’s
MSS 64.81 Photographic portrait, unidentified man and woman
MSS 64.82 Calvin Wheat and unidentified woman
MSS 64.83 Group photograph, inside a store
MSS 64.84 Clara Louise Parish, __?_ of Calvin Wheat
MSS 64.85 Group photograph, no identification
MSS 64.86 Three unidentified men wearing “Go Texas” ties


Series 4: Studio Framed Photographs

Box Photo
3 MSS 64.87 Lamp
MSS 64.88 Doors of a bank vault
MSS 64.89 Handbag
MSS 64.90 Corner of a living room
MSS 64.91 Krupp & Tuffly at Walker and Main; “poss. Opening photo; could be Battelsteins”
MSS 64.92 Silver tea service
MSS 64.93 Advertising photograph: Nutrena All-Mash Egg Pellets
MSS 64.94 Portion of a house and shrubbery
MSS 64.95 Portion of a room
MSS 64.96 Portion of a room: housecoat draped on a chair; smoking stand; lamp, and house-shoes
MSS 64.97 Interior of Battelstein’s store
MSS 64.98 Menger Hotel, “San Antonio”
MSS 64.99 Unidentified girl feeding her doll seated in a high chair. Photograph apparently submitted for rating at the Missouri Valley Photographers’ Association Convention, Kansas City, Missouri, March 2-5, 1931
MSS 64.100 Portion of a room. Furniture suggests a game room. “1920’s” written on back of photograph
MSS 64.101 Dessert on a plate in front of a candlestick and fruit display
MSS 64.102 Salad, soup and salt and pepper shakers; “1920’s” written on back of photograph
MSS 64.103 Display of fruit cup in front of candlestick and flowers
MSS 64.104 Glassware
MSS 64.105 Unopened battle of “Soluble Capsules”
MSS 64.106 Window display of products of Agfa Ansco Corporation
MSS 64.107 Photographic portrait of Calvin Wheat
MSS 64.108 Legs of female model wearing hose and heals
MSS 64.109 Perspective photograph of books standing on edge
MSS 64.110 Spools of various size thread, cord and twine


Series 5: Personal Records

Box Folder
3 1 Personal Records
Bulletin, University of Oklahoma: Fifth Annual News Photography Short Course and Clinic; April 17, 1941
Two booklets: Agfa Film Speed Ratings and Prices; Agfa Cameras and photographs taken by those cameras
Newspaper photograph of Calvin Wheat
Booklet: Masonic Burial Service
Booklet: Calvin Wheat Photography
Newspaper page about dance honoring Calvin Wheat