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Albert D. Noble, Jr., Glass Negatives Collection, 1885-1910

92 glass plate negatives, 33 photographic prints, 1 CD-R, 2 clippings

The Albert D. Noble, Jr., glass negatives collection consist of 92 glass plate negatives made by photographer Albert D. Noble, Jr. as well as 33 photographic prints, 2 newspaper clippings, and a computer disk with 180 digital images (including additional photographs by Noble, Jr. and copies of older family portraits).

The glass plate negatives are contained in two boxes and include images of Noble, Jr.'s childhood home in Grand Rapids and other private residences and public buildings in the area as well as views taken in Detroit of Noble, Jr.'s family's Christmas decorations, community ice skating, bicycling in the countryside, rural buildings, and regional parks including Belle Isle Park. The majority of images depict people, activities, and scenes from summer vacations to places like Orchard Lake and Upper Straights Lake; a group visit to the French Lick Springs Hotel in Indiana in 1902; views from the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901 (misidentified in Bayard C. Schoettle's publication Glass Negatives: Albert Dewitt Noble, Jr. as an event based in Grand Rapids); and numerous studio portraits of family members, acquaintances, and the noted elocution teacher Edna Chaffee Noble (no relation to Noble, Jr.). The glass plates are in a variety of sizes (16.5 x 21.5, 12.5 x 20.5, 11.5 x 16.5, and 10 x 12.5 cm) and each is stored in individual paper slipcases. Some but not all of the splipcases provide information regarding an image's subject matter. Most of the plates are in good condition, with only a few displaying cracks and none being broken. 33 photographic prints (31 unmounted and 2 mounted) are also present and include an image of several cows near a body of water, two mounted albumen prints of "Orchard Lake Cottage," two silver platinum prints showing an unidentified house and a sailboat, 16 unmounted gelatin silver prints showing various domestic, industrial, social and architectural scenes (most of which are represented in the glass negatives), and a series of 11 unmounted snapshots and 1 negative transparency showing scenes from Roseland Park Cemetery and the gravesite of Edna Chaffee Noble. Two newspaper clippings from the July 16 1899 Detroit Free Press Art Supplement related to Noble, Jr.'s second place finish in a photo competition are also included.

The CD-R accompanying the collection contains about 180 scanned images including all 92 of the glass plates present in the collection, approximately 75 additional photographs produced by Noble, Jr., and several photographs of trophies awarded to Noble, Jr., by the Grand Rapids camera club. The CD-R also includes images of early Noble family portraits that were scanned and retouched by Schoettle during his preparation for Glass Negatives: Albert Dewitt Noble, Jr.


Don Wilson Collection, 1885-2015, and undated

11.5 cubic ft. (in 11 boxes, 3 slide boxes, 2 note card boxes of slides, 21 Oversized folder)

The collection mostly documents Michigan railroads, focusing on the Ann Arbor Railroad Company (AARR), related lines, and its ferries in many formats. Also included are some organizational records of the Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association (AARTHA).

Collection, collected over time by Don Wilson, some of which he was given by other rail fans. The collection mostly documents Michigan railroads, focusing on the Ann Arbor Railroad Company (AARR), related lines, its reorganization, abandonment, and its ferries. Some ferry information is general such as Twin Screw Specs (Box 5), and there is information specific to the M.V. [Motor Vessel] Viking (originally Ann Arbor No. 7) and the City of Milwaukee. Formats include slides, photographs, negatives, photograph printing plates, blueprints, scrapbooks, photograph albums, speeches, notes, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, maps, digital scans and positive prints from those scans, a CD, and miscellaneous, related publications. Also included are some organizational records of the AARTHA. Other railroads documented to various degrees in the collection include: Central Michigan Railroad (CM); Detroit, Caro and Sandusky Railroad (DC and S); Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton Railroad; Grand Trunk Railway (GT); Green Bay and Western Railroad; H and E Railroad [probably the Huron and Eastern]; Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad; Michigan Interstate Railway Company; Michigan Northern Railway Company; Mid-Michigan Railroad; New York Central Railroad (NYC) and St. Louis Railroad (SLRR); New York Central State Railroad (NYCS); Norfolk and Western Railway Company; Northwestern Pacific Railroad; Penn Central Railroad; Southern Pacific Transportation Company; Tuscola, Saginaw Bay Railroad (TSBRR); Toledo, Owosso, and Flint Railroad (TOandFRR); Wabash Railroad, and Wisconsin Central Railroad.

Items of special interest to researchers may include: manifests of the M.V. Viking, February-August 1976, and AARTHA bylaws, meeting minutes, newsletter information, member lists, and other information (Box 1); reorganization information (see Vincent M. Malanaphy folders (Boxes 2, 4), Michigan Interstate Railway Co. and MI Rail System Rationalization Plan information (Box 4), AARR photographs (Boxes 2-3), Pamona Derailment Negatives, undated (Box 5).

Photographs, negatives, and history of a plethora of railroad related topics are found throughout the collection. There are three slide boxes and two note card boxes full of slides on railroads (Slide Boxes 1-5).

Blueprints include line, lever circuit controllers, and station design plans, styling and painting design, system maps, tracks and structures, equipment, station and train car blueprints, and property drawings.

The 2016 addition, Boxes 14-16 and Folder #21 (legal-size), 1.5 cubic feet from Don’s friend Don Maddock was organized by Maddock into the series of Abandonment Petitions and Michigan Interstate Era. Included are paper documents, scans and positive prints of some of Wilson’s negatives, a few other topical files, a CD, and three color photographs. The addition largely documents the reorganization and end of the AARR. Sale papers for the City of Milwaukee are included. Most of the 2019 addition papers are copies. Note: 2016 addition negatives are housed in print file negative preservers, not archival negative sleeves.

Researchers may be interested in knowing that there are several collections and many publications by and about the Ann Arbor Railroad in the Clarke, as well as other collections and published sources documenting other railroad companies.

Processing Note: The collection is organized by size and format, and then in alphabetical and chronological order. A few publications, two general railroad films, and a tote bag were returned to the members of the AARTHA. Some publications (24), both monographs and parts of serials, were cataloged separately and added to the Clarke’s collections. Some of the items are quite acidic or fragile, most of which were photocopied and the originals were withdrawn from the collection (.25 cubic ft. total). In a few cases, where entire folders were composed of very fragile tissue paper records or acidic records, the decision was made to leave the materials as they were without copying them. Numerous abbreviations were used by Mr. Wilson within the collection, which were replicated by the processors. Michigan was often abbreviated MI by Mr. Wilson and is used in this finding aid. See the Scope and Contents Note for abbreviations used for names of railroad companies.


Traverse City (Michigan) Photographic collection, 1850, 1969, and undated

7.5 cubic feet (in 15 boxes)

The collection includes photographic materials, papers, photographs, and postcards, mostly of the Traverse City, Michigan, area and other cities, towns, lumber camps, mines, and locks in Michigan.

This collection consists mostly of glass-plate negatives, film negatives, and glass positive slides; arranged in order by format and size. Some papers, photographs, and postcards complete the collection. Ormond S. Danford, a lawyer in Traverse City, Michigan, collected these materials. At least some of the photographs and glass-plate negatives are signed by S. E. Wait. It is possible that some of the unsigned images in the collection were created by Wait, but this cannot be verified. There are also a few items from at least one other unidentified photographer in this collection. In Box 15 a number of people in the photographs of Traverse City and the Traverse City State Hospital folders are identified as members of the Berkwith family. This would indicate that whether or not Wait originally photographed the Berkwiths, the family gave or sold their photograph collection to Danford.

Series I consists of 256 glass-plate negatives, Boxes 1-9 (4.5 cubic feet), and each plate measures 6.5 x 8.5 inches unless otherwise noted. Only one of the images is dated, 1900; the rest probably date from 1850 to 1900, but are undated. Most of these negatives are formal portraits in which the people photographed are dressed in their very best clothes. Plaid dresses were very popular as were lacy scarves for ladies and girls. One little boy is proudly dressed in a kilt and tartan (Glass-plate negative #68). Most of the men are in three piece suits with small ties, and sport beards and mustaches. These portraits were taken in the same studio setting with the same furniture and props. Single portraits of men and of women, and group photographs of family members, children, and women, and one of two men boxing with boxing gloves, are also in the portraits. The few portraits which are exceptions to this show props in the background, are not centered, show partial images of other people in the background or are double portraits. One portrait of a woman (#101) has suffered extreme emulsion damage and loss. A scanned print has been generated for use and the glass-plate negative, while retained in the collection, should not be used by researchers. One portrait is clearly that of Myron E. Haskell (#35), Assistant Postmaster of Traverse City, as shown in Old settlers of the Grand Traverse Region, p.15. Most of the images probably date from the 1860s-1900 based on hair styles and clothing. Five portraits may date from the 1850s because of the earlier hair styles and clothing (#17, 51, and 94, which are portraits of women; and #34 and 46, which are portraits of men).

Five glass-plate negatives in this group are not portraits. These include: #29 Five floral wreaths; one labeled Hose Co. No. 3, one labeled G.A.R.-In Memorium McPherson Post No. 118-Traverse City, 8 x 10 inches; #79 Aerial view of houses, trees, and some industrial buildings. “S. E. Wait Photo” in lower right corner, 5 x 8 inches; #80 Trees in foreground on hills, town in background, 5 x 8 inches; #88 “Traverse City from Bill Org’s heights.” Trees with water in background. Emulsion peeling off right side, some already lost, 5 x 8 inches; and #89 “London Rally Decorations. Aug. 5th, 1900. Cong’l [Congregational] Church, Traverse City, Mich. S. E. Wait, Photo.” Interior view of church from rear with pews, walls and ceiling draped with various flags, 5 x 8 inches. (A positive of the interior of the Congregational Church is in Box 15.)

Most of the glass-plate negatives are in pretty good shape. Some plates suffer from various degrees of emulsion damage, scratches, and/or have edges or sections broken off them. A few have black outlines around the person in the portrait. Many appear to have had paper pasted on their backs at one time. Most group images were photographed with the plate horizontally, while one or two people are usually photographed on the plate vertically.

It would be logical from the assumed date of the images in Series I, 1850-1900, to assume that Wait, probably the only local photographer at the time, photographed and developed these images.

Series II consists of the remainder of the 240 glass-plate negatives and 100 film negatives in Boxes 10-13 (2 cubic feet). The film negatives are mostly undated, but some of the glass-plate negatives are dated between 1891 and 1916. The glass-plate negatives and some of the film were interfiled in the original boxes and so have not been separated into different series. Sizes of glass-plate negatives vary from 6 x 2 inches to 2.75 x 4 inches. The topic matter varies in this series and includes: images of towns, boats, people, horses and buggies, lumbering and logs, a stuffed eagle, cottages, and a wedding, as well as views from boats looking towards shore. Again, most of these are in good condition with minor scratches or emulsion damage to the plates. There are also images of published drawings, poems, and paintings where the published date is 1879-1894; as well as images taken of two stereoscopic view, one of which is identified as the Chicago Fire, 1871, taken by J. H. Abbott, Photographer (in Box 12). Some of the glass-plate negatives are identified by location name, including: Traverse City, Karlin, Hawkins’ Point, Cannon Creek, Old Mission Point, most of which are located near Traverse City, and various places on Mackinaw Island, Fort Mackinaw, Marquette Ore Docks, and two of Lighthouse Point (perhaps at St. Ignace). Many of the glass-plate negatives are not dated, but those with dates range from 1891 to 1916. Some are signed by S. E. Wait.

The 100 film negatives, all undated and all turn of the century 1899/1900, are in Box 13, folders 4-10 and vary in size from 4 x 5 inches to 4 x 4 inches. The negatives came from a set of identified boxes. The first box (Folder 4), identified as Minnie and Frank’s wedding trip, include 18 film negatives all 4 x 5 inches, all undated, mostly of the Soo Locks, Mackinaw Island, Fort Mackinac and buildings. Folders 5 (measuring 4 x 5 inches) and Folder 6 (Measuring 3 x 6 inches) were identified as Bangilt Cottage and Duck Point and include 16 undated, unidentified film negatives mainly of people by cabins and houses in the woods and nature views. Folder 7 includes 4 negatives of various sizes identified as the Onsmore Home and Boat. The same house is in three of the images and may be the Onsmore home. The remaining image is of people in a row boat called the Sea Gull. Folders 8-10 include 60 undated negatives of varying size from the Copper Country Trip box. These negatives are mostly of people and a town, although there are two of mining equipment. The last five images in Folder 10 are images of published photographs including a statue of Fr. Marquette, Lake Linden’s Congregational Church, Hancock’s Congregational Church, and Red Jacket Shaft, C. and H. Mining Co., Calumet.

Box 14 is Series III and includes 37 positive Lumberjack slides. The original box was identified as Lumberjack Slides-S. E. Wait. The slides are made by two pieces of glass held together with black paper, sometimes with tape. Some of the slides are identified, some have “U.S. Department of Agriculture” printed on them, others have handwritten notation, others have published text, including some from Chicago, and some slides are unidentified. Sometimes the slide with the text is reversed and very difficult to read. Some of the slides have ornate detail around the edges indicating that it was purchased rather than created by Wait. It is possible that Wait photographed some of the images while employed by the Agriculture Department, and they were later available for purchase by the public. The slides mostly document lumbermen, ox and horse teams, loads of logs, lumber camps, interiors of buildings, people in and by camps, lumberyards and sawmills, lumber locomotives and trains, machinery in mills, floating logs, log jams, lumber teams, sawyers, a cook house, and a lumberjack bunkhouse. At least one slide (#3 in Box 14) is of a log jam on the St. Croix River, St. Croix Falls, WI, 1886. Identified site locations are: Chorron’s Camp, west of Grayling; near Traverse City; Saginaw; and Queen Dam on Middle Branch of the Cedar [River]. A load of logs is identified as “Fine Norway Pine” and another as “The White Pine King” giving age: 423 years, height: 207 feet, and feet scaled: 29800.

The last box, Box 15 (.5 cubic foot), is Series IV and includes Papers, Photographs, and Postcards mostly documenting Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Fife Lake, Michigan. Dated materials range from pre-1898 through 1969, but most of the materials are undated. Of note here are the Aetna School Board District Meeting Minutes, 1877-1912 (1 volume) of Mecosta County, Michigan; Grand Traverse Historical Society Meeting Minutes, May 20, 1954-March 27, 1969; and photographs of Traverse City and its State Hospital, 1895, and undated, in which members of the Berkwith family are identified.