The L.A. Huffman Studio Collection consists of personal correspondence from family and acquaintances, particularly W.T. Hornaday, as well as personal financial documents and manuscripts written by Huffman. The collection also includes all business correspondence, and photographic images produced by Huffman and other photographers.
One of the premier frontier photographers, L.A. Huffman was born October 31, 1854 in Iowa. He learned about photography from his father, who owned a photography studio. In 1878 he undertook a dangerous winter journey to Ft. Keogh, Montana, to serve as post photographer. While there, he photographed soldiers at the fort as well as American Indians and citizens in nearby Miles City.
In order to supplement his income, Huffman started a small cattle ranch, served as a hunting guide, and hunted animals himself, always taking along his 50-pound homemade camera and often developing his photos on the spot. His experiments with exposure and lens openings allowed him to capture action shots of early roundups and cowboy activities that are unique for his time. His subject matter was also novel, particularly in his photographing of American Indians performing traditional activities. Consequently, his images of Plains Indians and early cowboy ranching scenes are considered some of the best of this era.
Huffman’s images of the last of the wild buffalo herds in Montana Territory are especially important since they are the only ones of their kind, especially those of hide-hunters skinning their kill. Aside from his photography, Huffman also played an active role in the early development of eastern Montana. He served as a school board member, county commissioner, and in 1893 was elected to the Montana House of Representatives. L.A. Huffman died in Billings, Montana, in 1931.
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