Harry W. Crosby (born 1926 in Seattle, Washington) is an American historian and photographer. His parents moved to La Jolla in 1935. He graduated from La Jolla High School in 1944, and studied math and science at Occidental College in Los Angeles, completing a double major in pre-med and psychology. After twelve years as a teacher of secondary-level science, mostly chemistry, he took up photography, and in 1967, was hired as a photographer to illustrate the book The Call to California for the Commission of the Californias, commemorating California’s bicentennial. Following the route of the Portolá expedition of 1769 to make photos to illustrate a text derived from diaries of the trekkers, Crosby rode 600 miles on muleback on remote trails. Since then, he has continued to do primary research and to write extensively on the history and cave paintings of Baja California and the early history of Alta California.
His books include: The Cave Paintings of Baja California: Discovering the Great Murals of an Unknown People (Copley Books, 1975, reissued by Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, 1997); Gateway to Alta California: The Expedition to San Diego, 1769 (Sunbelt, 2004), which was a finalist for the 2003 Southern California Booksellers Association award; and Antigua California: Mission and Colony on the Peninsula Frontier, 1697-1768 (University of New Mexico Press, 1996), which won the 1995 Caroline Bancroft History Prize from the Denver Public Library. Some of Crosby’s early photography is collected in the book Tijuana 1964: A Photographic and Historic View (SDSU Press, 2000); and his only novel is Portrait of Paloma (Sunbelt, 2001).