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Calvin Wheat Photographs and Papers

Identifier: MSS 0064

Scope and Contents

The Calvin Wheat Photographs and Papers contain 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.


  • 1915-1917

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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

Biographical Note

Calvin Wheat was the premier photographer in Houston during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Mr. Wheat’s commercial studio was located at 415 Louisiana 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 were valued at over $25,000. Seven darkrooms with innovative equipment were allocated for film development.


2 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



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.


  1. Series 1: Scrapbooks
  2. Series 2: Photographs
  3. Series 3: Framed Photographs
  4. Series 4: Studio Framed Photographs
  5. Series 5: Personal Records

Photo Database

HMRC's Photographic Archives Database ( contains an inventory of photographs in this collection.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Richard A. Wheat. October 5, 1977

Processing Information

Processed by Charles Stephenson, July 2006

Calvin Wheat Photographs and Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center Repository


The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002