Photograph Collection

Historical Photographs

The bulk of our small collection of photographs falls into two groups.

  • The first is the work of Wallace White, a photographer working in Kalamazoo in the late 1800s. In the 1920s a library staff member purchased the negatives from his estate and donated them to the library. Most of White's images were taken between 1870 and 1890 and show Kalamazoo buildings and street scenes. There is a smaller group of portraits made in his studio.
  • The second major group was taken by Mamie Austin, who was on the library staff at the time, and whose father had been a commercial photographer in Kalamazoo for many years. Almost all of the Austin photos show Kalamazoo buildings or interior scenes of factories, taken from 1936 to 1941.

About 1200 of our photographs have been scanned and loaded onto our web site. There are also about 1000 images from the Kalamazoo Valley Museum collection and another 800 from the WMU Archives and Regional History Collections available on our web site. All of these are now cataloged. 

To view the cataloged photographs, follow the instructions below:

  1. Click Local Photographs Database.
  2. Search by keyword(s).
  3. A text listing of the applicable photographs will appear. To view the photographs, click the URL symbol in the blue square appearing to the left of the text description.

In most cases, the Library will provide high quality scans of photographs from our collection for a small fee. See our instructions for requesting digital copies of local history photos.

For browsing, we suggest these picture books:

Picturesque Kalamazoo: Illustrated with Photo-etchings of its Artistic Homes, Business Interests, Scenery and Surroundings,…

 

  • Craig, James P.
  • Whipporwill Publications, 1984 (this is a facsimile of a work originally published in 1892)
  • H 977.418 P62

Art Work of City of Kalamazoo: Published in Twelve Parts

 

  • W. H. Parish Publishing Co., 1894
  • H 977.418 A78

Labadie's Souvenir of Picturesque Kalamazoo: Containing Historical Sketch, Views of City and Public Buildings, Schoolhouses

 

  • E. E. Labadie, 1909
  • H 977.418 P62L

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-century Homes in a Midwestern Village

 

  • Schmitt, Peter and Balthazar Korab
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976
  • H 720.9774 S355

Looking Back: A Pictorial History of Kalamazoo

 

  • Heritage House Publishing, c1994
  • H 977.418 L863

 

Through the Years: A Pictorial History of Kalamazoo

 

  • Heritage House Publishing, 1999
  • H 977.418 T531

 

Kalamazoo Lost and Found

  • Houghton, Lynn Smith and Pamela Hall O'Connor
  • Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, 2001
  • H 720.9774 H838