08 February 2020

Tinder Collection Showcases Michigan Photographs

Would you like to see a picture of Mr. and Mrs Santa Claus in 1885? What about the 1931 Highland Park School of Nursing? or the Grand Trunk Accounting Division, circa 1930? Are you a fan of the television show, Pimple Popper? There is a picture of a growth that makes that show look tame. 

All of these and more are a part of the David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography housed at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I first heard of David Tinder because I was researching family pictures. The Tinder Directory of Photographers is an online directory of early Michigan photographers. It lists the photographer by city or township, years in business, and name of business. Supplemental information includes an alphabetical list of photographers with biographical information, business addresses, comments about business practices, and specializations when known. It is a wonderful resource for Michigan photography research.

Another wonderful resource is the Tinder Collection at the U of M. Tinder, a U of M alumnus, started collecting Michigan stereoviews in the 1970's. This start led to over 100,000 images being donated to the University of Michigan. This collection includes all forms of photographic images. It is a wonderful collection to explore.

Tinder's collection of images cover a vast array of Michigan History. Lumbering, mining, paper making, and cereal making to name a view. It includes african-americans, native americans, ethnic dress, schools, occupations, organizations and more. There are finding aids available online.

One group of finding aid is categorized by counties. For example, the Calhoun County finding aid shows that there are 90 photographs, 1 document, and 1 booklet. The year range is 1870-1930. This part of the collection has store fronts, street views, residences, a train wreck, flooding destruction, Fort Custer, sports teams, police brigade, and more. The document is a fraternity certificate from Albion College. The booklet is from Albion College. Each county is different in its collection and the finding aids will help you to know what is available. Wayne County has 1,937 photographs, 16 real photo stamps, 6 booklets, 101 pages, clippings and ephemera.  Benzie county, the smallest county in Michigan, has 51 photographs in the Tinder Collection.

Unfortunately, not all of the collection is open to researchers. The finding aid will tell you that when you click on the category. Some of the ones not open to researchers include steriographs, over-sized file, photographers file, real photo postcards, photographers albums, framed photographs, glass slides and negatives.

Don't despair that still leaves an awful lot of images to capture your imagination and almost 700 of them are available online. The Clements Library Image Bank houses the online images. I spent some time looking at the image bank and it was a diverse slice of life in Michigan.

Remember photographs are copyrighted and you will need permission to use any of the images in the Tinder Collection. If you are going to be in the M Go Blue (University of Michigan) area, plan a visit (there are a few rules to follow before visiting) to the Clements library and the Tinder Collection.

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