A full 30 years before Ansel Adams began taking his renowned photographs in the California foothills, Sierra-Nevada Mountain Range and Northwest Coastal areas, Martyn Mallory (1880-1936) was traversing the Wood River Valley, Smoky Mountains, Galena Summit, and Sawtooth Valley/Stanely Basin areas of central Idaho, taking archetypal photos on glass plate negatives. Mallory’s subjects included lakes, scenic vistas, early settlements, and cultural events. He also documented the valley’s early 20th century mining towns as they developed, and was reported to be the first photographer hired to capture the construction of the Sun Valley Lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Mallory was serving as Blaine County’s Assessor when he passed at the age of 56. He had worked for the Forest Service, the pioneering Friedman family, and he ran his own store. Despite Idaho’s harsh climate and difficult geography, Martyn Mallory left behind a collection of over 1,500 original glass-plate negatives and 2,500 positives–a testimony of his passion for the state of Idaho, or what Susan Swetnam has called a “tough paradise”.
At the settling of his estate, his third son, William (Bill) Mallory, and son’s wife, Maria (Rose) Mallory, took it upon themselves to preserve Martyn’s lifework. They transported and stored the many steamer trunks of photos at their home until April 30, 1995, when they donated the entire contents of the Martyn Mallory Historic Photograph Collection, or the Mallory Collection, to the Hailey Public Library (HPL). They appointed HPL exclusive rights to determine the control and availability of materials for research and reproduction.