Below are some (quite a few) of the 2,038 digital images from the Gustav Johnson glass plate collection at the South Dakota State Archives that caught my eye or peaked my interest. There are so many wonderful images in this collection, both for historical reasons and photographic – some beautiful portraits… And there were a surprising number of humorous images, a lot of smiles and some down-right hilarious, like the ‘breaking out of jail’ image or the series of “Deadman Valley Ranch.”
The images are scanned at a high-resolution, which is wonderful for looking at details of a farmyard, or a street scene, or the expression of a person’s face. There are also a lot of unlabeled people/places, so I’m sure the Archives would accept additional information about images.
As 100-year-old glass plate images, many of the images are full of glorious imperfections that I’m sure are frustrating in cases (like this one that had distortion right over a couple’s faces, 2013-04-17-317), but I think they are kind of beautiful in their own way–and in some cases add beauty to the image: like the cracks on this image, 2013-07-19-312 or these that frame their subject 2013-07-01-347 and 2013-04-25-304.
A lot of the images are of Philip. I made a section for wider views of the town of Philip, but there are lines in other categories that are also clearly or ostensibly also the Philip area. And, there are many in the collection that I did not pull out for my list here.
Haakon Horizons (Philip, SD: E.H. Baye, 1982), 296.
Gustav Johnson was a photographer who lived in Philip, Haakon County. “Johnson was a familiar figure on the prairies surrounding Philip…. Johnson spent many days wandering from homestead to homestead in search of customers for his postcard art. Frequently trailing in his shadow was his eldest daughter, Evelyn, her father’s able assistant… For several years he operated a small photography studio. It was common for a Philip resident to pass the shop and find framed glass negatives sitting in the sun exposing light sensitive paper” [Haakon Horizons (Philip SD: E.H. Baye, 1982), 297]. His daughter, Evelyn Haberly, worked to “[preserve] the photographer’s contributions for future generations” [Haakon Horizons (Philip SD: E.H. Baye, 1982), 297]. From the State Archives’ photo description: “Information about Gustav Johnson’s photographs can be found in “Haakon Horizons” by Elsie Hey Baye, 1982 and “A Pictorial History of the Philip Area Featuring the photographic art of Gustav Johnson” by the Taylor Publishing Company, 1987.”