Team Photo at The Grand Rapids Public Museum

nov 11

7:00 - 8:30 PM

Virtual Online Presentation    map

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has thousands of photographs in their archives. They have been collecting them for a very long time. Today, as images are accepted into the collection they are scanned and put into the data base. They are available for viewing on line by the general public.

Some of the images that were donated in the early years were not identified. None, of course, were scanned. The members of Team Photo came together because of a common love of research. We are not the first to work on the extensive collection of photographs. A series of staff, interns and volunteers have worked on it. We meet once a week to scan images, staff then download them to the data base while we research them and enter the findings into the computer. We try to find out who, what, where, and when. We assign a unique number if they don’t already have one, add a geolocation if we know it and enter the box number and folder number locations so they can be found in the archives, if needed, at a later date. It can be very exciting, it can be very tedious, and from time to time can drag the whole team down a rabbit hole searching for a clue, any clue to bring a particular photo to life. Each member of the group picked photographs that spoke to them, delighted them, or perhaps frustrated them. We have also added a few current images to add context for those who are not as familiar with the area.

The largest group of photographs, at least 2,500 are from The Camera Shop, which was located at 16 Monroe NE in the block between N Division and Sheldon, which is now a pedestrian area around the Civil War Monument. There are other significant collections, such as the collection from Dorothy O’Brien who donated over 140 images, although not all have been scanned yet. Laura Lorenson took black and white photos of buildings and houses around town. They were discovered in an index card tin in an office. Mrs. Dwight Monsma donated over 400, but that is a story for another time.

Why we do it? For future researchers, and because they let us. We debated if we should downplay how much fun we have. We decided to tell you, we have fun.

Not all of our questions have been answered. We are hoping you will be able to help us with additional information about a few of our stumpers.

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Mailing Address
Grand Rapids Historical Society
c/o Grand Rapids Public Library

111 Library St NE FL 4
Grand Rapids MI 49503-3268

(616) 988-5497 GRPL

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