Robert Ormes Dougan Photograph Collection

Scope and Content

Photographs and related material collected by Robert Ormes Dougan, mainly dating from the 1840s to the early 20th century. It features the work of many of the pioneers of photography including the partnership of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson

The collection consists of: 

  • 493 paper negatives
  • 324 glass negatives
  • 411 original calotypes and 459 later prints.

It is accompanied by 107 bound volumes, including over 20 albums containing examples of the work of many of the pioneers of photography.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection of photographs by (1802-1870) David Octavius Hill and other pioneers of photography was collated by Robert Ormes Dougan. Robert Dougan was born in 1904 in Ilford, Essex, England. He became a librarian holding posts as the city librarian in Perth, Scotland; deputy librarian at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; and librarian at the Henry E Huntington Library, California. He died in California in 1999.

Landscape and portrait painter, David Octavius Hill was born in 1802. He is best known to history as a pioneer photographer. He was the first artist to apply the new invention of photography to portraiture, and many of the calotypes which he made of eminent figures are now a valued part of the national photographic archive. Hill had a studio on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland and was closely associated in his photographic work with Robert Adamson, of St Andrews, Scotland.

Hill and Adamson formed a partnership in somewhat odd circumstances. In May 1843, four hundred ministers - a third of the entire church - signed a Deed of Demission, resigning their livings and establishing the Free Church of Scotland. Hill announced the undertaking of a great commemorative painting of the event, to include all those present, which would be the basis of an engraving. As the many ministers would soon scatter throughout Scotland, it was Hill's friend, Sir David Brewster, who suggested a way to make the recording practical. Brewster introduced Hill to Adamson and overcame the artist's scepticism as to the value of photography. The two men soon entered into an enthusiastic partnership. In their photography, Hill and Adamson produced calotype negatives. These were made on sheets of writing paper treated with light sensitive chemicals. Exposure times could run into several minutes in sunlight. The cameras were necessarily bulky as enlarging was not possible. The negative, which had to be the size of the final print, was printed by contact in full sunlight on a hand coated salt paper. Each negative and print had its own character. The prints were typically purple to reddish brown in tone, emphasising broad masses of detail. The partnership was brought to an end by the sudden death of Adamson in 1848 although Hill continued to work as a photographer.

Hill died in 1870 and is buried in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, where there is a bronze bust of him by his widow.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information

Access to certain records within this collection may be restricted or closed for reasons of conservation or preservation. Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Acquisition Information

Purchased : Robert Ormes Dougan : 1953 : ACCN 4317

Other Finding Aids

See also University of Glasgow Collections

The bound albums and volumes have been added to the Glasgow University Library online catalogue and can be found via by searching for the call reference Sp Coll Dougan

Unpublished typescript inventory of negatives and prints available in the searchroom

See also the Hill and Adamson dedicated web pages at and the illustrated online catalogue available at

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Advance notice required

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

R O Dougan acquired much of this collection in 1945 from the family of Francis Caird Inglis, the last photographer to occupy Rock House, the photographic studio in Edinburgh used in the 1840s by Hill & Adamson, and successors.


None expected

Related Material

GB 247 MS Gen 1585 Correspondence concerning the acquisition of the photographic collection of Robert Dougan

For published works which are part of the Dougan Collection, see Rare Books online search.

Geographical Names