William J. Klauer Collection


William J. Klauer Collection


In May and June of 1912, two itinerant photographers arrived in Dubuque and began shooting the photographs that would become the Klauer Collection. For three weeks they traveled throughout the city with a large-format camera and a magnesium-powder flash lamp taking approximately 440 photographs of workers in factories, offices, shops, saloons and even the operating room at Mercy Hospital. We don't know the photographers' names, although they each posed as customers as needed, leaving us with several self-portraits. This type of workplace photography was not unusual in 1912 – itinerant photographers traveled the country photographing cities large and small. However, the fact that most of the glass negatives did survive together, intact for 100 years, is unusual. Itinerant photographers could not carry their solid glass plates with them and instead sold them to junk dealers who scraped the emulsion clean and resold them. Fortunately, the Dubuque photographers sold the plates to Peter Klauer, then President of Klauer Manufacturing Company, who stored them in one of his warehouses. In the 1970s, at least two sets of contact prints were made and in the 1980s, Peter’s grandson, William, donated a set of contact prints to the Center for Dubuque History. Later, 330 of the glass plates - all that remained - were also donated.


Dubuque (Iowa) -- Pictorial Works
Glass negatives
Gelatin silver prints
Itinerant Photographers


The Center for Dubuque History, Loras College, 1450 Alta Vista Street, Dubuque, Iowa 52001

Collection Items

[Operating room at Mercy Hospital]
Operating room at Mercy Hospital, Dubuque, Iowa. Seated is Dr. Mathias J. Moes. Standing are Dr. John B. Heles and Dr. William L. Becker. Also present are another man, a female nurse and a female aide. All are in street clothes covered by white…

[Men posing at their workstations in a printing shop]
Three men are posing at their workstations in a printing shop. A platen jobbing press can be seen in the foreground. A supervisor, dressed in suit and tie, is visible in the background. The number "208" has been written on the emulsion side of the…

[Young woman at a soda fountain counter]
A woman, perhaps in her twenties, is standing between two counters in a soda fountain store. Her reflection may be seen in the mirror behind the back counter. She is dressed in a long sleeved, dark dress with a large white collar, white cuffs and a…

[Dr. Martha A.  McCullough's office in the Bank & Insurance Building]
Dr. Martha A. McCullough, MD, is seated at a large roll-top desk reading a large book. A telephone, books and papers are visible on the desk. Medical supplies and filled glass bottles are stored in a glass-enclosed shelving unit. A small table with…

[Klauer Manufacturing Company Office]
The office appears to be quite small. Pressed tin covers the upper walls and ceiling. The lower walls are of wainscoting. A buzzer is visible on the back wall. An electric light hangs down on a cord from the ceiling. Two office workers are visible. A…

[Grocery store]
Two men are standing in front of a display of canned goods and coffee packaged in bags, sacks and cans. One man is holding a package of coffee as if he is demonstrating the quality of the product to the other gentleman. A wire rack with six bins is…

[Marshall, O'Brien, Worthen Dental Supply Company in the Bank & Insurance Building]
A large, glass-front display case with various sized boxes, pamphlets and rows of tools used in the practice of dentistry dominates this image. Another case filled with bottles is also visible. A woman, seated, is partially visible behind an…

[Telegraph-Herald editor Louis Murphy]
Louis Murphy, editor of the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, is seated at his desk reading a newspaper column. Stacks of books, papers and an unidentified machine with a cover on it, occupy all but a small portion of the desktop. Various pictures and…

[Workers at the Carr, Ryder & Adams Company]
Nine men are seen posing around completed millwork items. Stacked on several carts are doors, drawers, columns and molding pieces. Prominent in the image are the large beams supporting the warehouse ceiling. An ascending stairway, electric wiring and…

[Conductors’ Lounge at the Union Electric Car Barn]
Four men, dressed in streetcar conductors' uniforms of suit, white shirt, tie and brimmed cap, are visible. Two men are playing pool at one of three pool tables, and two other men are seated at a nearby table. One other man, not in uniform, may be…
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