About the A.J Kingsbury American-Indian Photography Project

A.J. Kingsbury was a professional photographer who traveled around Northern Wisconsin and Michigan in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. Kingsbury took photographs of many subjects, among the most interesting of which were picture postcards featuring American Indian subjects from the Ojibwe and Menominee tribes. These photographs featured mostly posed Menominee and Ojibwe subjects, as well as geographic pictures and landscape from the region.

These photographs, glass plate negatives, and picture postcards are now held by the Langlade County Historical Society in Antigo, Wisconsin. Joe Hermolin, the Society’s president, brought these photographs to the attention of several people in the Menominee community and the decision was made to digitize the majority of them. Following strictly the advice of the members involved, Hermolin has since then been able to build a meaningful working relationship with the native communities. This has been the most energizing and positive experience for everyone working with this collection.

Emily Pfotenhauer from Wisconsin Heritage Online has worked with Hermolin to digitize and display the photographs in a collection called The A.J. Kingsbury Picture Postcards of Northern Wisconsin Collection. Due to issues of cultural sensitivity, only 144 photographs, glass plate negatives, and postcards have been deemed appropriate by the Ojibwe and Menominee communities for display online.

Partnership Between TLAM and the Langlade County Historical Society

The A.J. Kingsbury collection was brought to the attention of the Spring 2010 TLAM class, and six enthusiastic students began work with Joe Hermolin and his volunteers to create titles, subject headings, and descriptions for the selected photographs. With all of the photographs now digitized and described, a new group of TLAM students decided to continue with the project, following the lead of the previous students and Hermolin’s descriptions. Their focus fell to improving and streamlining the collection’s metadata, and doing further background research, and, if possible, update the photographs online. Students from the TLAM Spring 2011 class have been working continuously to increase awareness of the project within the Native American communities in and around Wisconsin, following Hermolin’s lead in including these important groups in the work process. Increasing effort is being made to ask for guidance and approval for any future changes to the photographic collection online.

Going Forward

Members of the TLAM Student Group, established in the Fall of 2011, continues to work on these photographs. Select members of the group who are being updated about the history and progress of this groundbreaking project are doing further research. Meaningful relationships with the native communities are being further established and maintained to ensure the continued success of the project.