Timothy H. O’Sullivan (c. 1840 – January 14, 1882) was a photographer best known for of the Civil War and the western United States. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice in Mathew Brady’s Fulton Street gallery in New York City. He moved on to the Washington, D.C., branch managed by Alexander Gardner. In 1861. At the age of twenty-one, O’Sullivan joined Brady’s team of Civil War photographers.
Little is known about his early life. He was either born in Ireland or New Work City. As a teenager, Timothy was employed by Matthew Brady where he learn the newly invented craft of photography. When the Civil War broke out, he is commission as a first lieutenant in the Union Army, in 1861.
After the was, in 1867, Timothy H. O’Sullivan is hired by Clarence King to accompany the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel as a photographer. O’Sullivan was with the Survey for the seasons of 1867, 1868, 1869 and 1872.
During these expeditions, he is known to carry two or possibly three camera outfits which include a 9″x12″ and 8″x1O” plates and for stereoscopic views. He developed the plates in the field, as was necessary with the wet plate process, and worked in either a photographic tent or a mule-drawn ambulance wagon. The negatives were usually sent back to the Survey offices in Washington D.C. where they are printed.
In 1871, O’Sullivan join the geological surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, under the command of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Wheeler would caption O’Sullivan’s photographs with practical information useful in the later establishment of roads and rail routes and emphasized the west’s suitability for settlement.
In 1873, on another Wheeler expedition, O’Sullivan photographed the Zuni and Magia pueblos and the Canyon de Chelly and its remnants of a cliff-dwelling culture. He returned to Washington, D.C., in 1874 and made prints for the Army Corps of Engineers. Soon after being made chief photographer for the United States Treasury in 1880, O’Sullivan died of tuberculosis at age forty-one.