59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Panama Canal Photograph Collection

Descriptive Summary

RepositoryMartha's Vineyard Museum
Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
(508) 627-4441
Call NumberRU 494
Creator Coulter, Virginia Evelyn, 1909-1993
TitlePanama Canal Photograph Collection
Datecirca 1900-circa 1915, undated
Extent1 box (0.256 cubic feet)
LanguageThe materials are in English.
AbstractThis collection consists of photographs and postcards of Panama, mostly of the construction of the Panama Canal.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 494, Panama Canal Photograph Collection.

Acquisition Information

Gift of James B. Richardson in 2006 (Accession number 2006.008).

Custodial History

The materials were originally given to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, but when it was determined that they were not relevant to the Carnegie’s collections, curator James Richardson decided to offer them to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum because of the connection between Martha’s Vineyard and General George Washington Goethals, the chief engineer known for completing the bridge.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
(508) 627-4441

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared and machine-encoded by Nathaniel Janick in January 2015.

 Creation of this finding aid was sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Alternative Form Available

Digital copies of all images can be accessed at the Martha's Vineyard Museum.

Controlled Access Headings


  • Photographs
  • Postcards

Geographic Name(s)

  • Panama Canal Zone

Personal Name(s)

  • Rau, William Herman, 1855-1920


  • Panama Canal
  • Crocodiles

Biography/Historical Note

Virginia Evelyn Coulter was born in 1909, in the Panama Canal Zone. Her parents were Herbert Seymour Glazier and Sarah E. Powell. She was married to Dr. Clinton R. Coulter and died in Parker, Pennsylvania, in 1993.

Not much is known about the history of the photographs. With one exception, none of the materials identify their photographer. The exception was photographed by William H. Rau (1855-1920), a photographer based out of Philadelphia, best known for his images of the railroad industry. Though there is only one photograph clearly identified as William H. Rau, but Rau could also be responsible for others. The relationship between William H. Rau and Virginia Coulter is unknown.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains photographs and postcards related primarily to the construction of the Panama Canal. The images include scenes of the canal construction, exterior shots of living quarters and hospitals in the Canal Zone, crocodile hunting, and jungles.


The collection is arranged by format, and then loosely by size.

Collection Inventory


Postcards, circa 1900-circa 1915 


Photographs, approximately 3" x 5", circa 1900-circa 1915 
 2006.008.009, 2006.008.061-084


Photographs, approximately 5" x 8", circa 1900-circa 1915 
 2006.008.006-008, 2006.008.049-060


Photographs, approximately 7" x 9", circa 1900-circa 1915 


Ephemera, undated 


The contents of this folder were received with the rest of the materials, but their relation to the rest of the materials, if any, is unknown. Includes an albumen print (probably unrelated), an undated lottery ticket (presumably from Panama), and a hotel brochure from Taboga Island, Panama.