Purchased as part of the Thomas McKee Collection from J.P McKee, son of Thomas McKee (1854-1930).Thomas M. McKee was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Nashville, TN. He trained as a photographer, but also often worked as a railroad express messenger and had interests in paleontology. He found his way to Montrose, CO in 1890 to set up a photography studio. He is believed to be one of the first photographers to take X-ray pictures. He introduced western Colorado to moving pictures in 1895.
He photographed Mesa Verde and much of the local mining activity. In the early 1900s he turned his interests to documenting the daily lives of Ute people in photographs. He also began to collect Ute artifacts and amassed one of the largest Ute collections in the United States. He was close friends with Ouray and Chipeta. History Colorado bought his collection in 1948. It consists of 232 items. 150 are beaded Ute pieces. While his focus was on Ute artifacts, he also collected a smaller number of other Plains artifacts. While his focus was on Ute artifacts, he also collected a smaller number of other Plains artifacts.