Dubuque at work

Loras Press Launches A City at Work 1912 and 2012 Art Books

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Loras College announced that two, high quality, photography books, A City at Work: Dubuque, 1912 and A City at Work: Dubuque, 2012, both published by the Loras College Press, will be released this fall.

A City at Work: Dubuque, 1912, by Tim Olson and Mike Gibson, features prints from a collection of glass plate negatives taken in 1912 and housed in the Loras College Center for Dubuque History. The volume also includes a series of compelling essays by Mike Gibson, Tim Olson, Mary Allison Farley, Duane Hagerty, Daniel Joseph Rapp and Kristin Anderson- Bricker, Ph.D., based on research that relates to the photographs. Select prints from the volume are scheduled to go on exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art in January 2020.

The second volume, A City at Work: Dubuque, 2012, shares photos by Tim Olson of many of the same locations as the 1912 glass plate set or similar occupations 100 years later.

The 1912 book will be available at Loras College Homecoming at a book signing on Saturday, October 12, 9:00-9:30 a.m., in the Miller Academic Resource Center.
Book signings and discussion of both books also will take place at River Lights Bookstore on the evening of November 20 and at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in December.

Both volumes will be available separately or together from the Loras College Barnes & Noble Bookstore and from River Lights Bookstore, both in Dubuque. The entire shipment of volumes will be available by early November, in time for holiday gift giving. River Lights Bookstore is currently taking pre-orders.

A City at Work: Dubuque, 1912 is a 184-page hardbound 9 x 11.5 first edition that retails for $34.95, while A City at Work: Dubuque, 2012 is a 104-page softbound first edition 9 x 11.5 that retails for $24.95. The volumes can be purchased together for $50.00.

In discussing the 1912 volume, Kelly Cooper, executive director of Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council, said, “This work of art contains an amazing glimpse into our past, and shows some of our long-standing unionized companies in the City of Dubuque. The photography is absolutely stunning, and truly shows the work conditions that existed in the early 1900s.”

Rick Dickinson, president and CEO of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, said of these collections, “These images tell a timeless story of a community steeped in the dignity of work. ‘A City at Work’ is a treasure trove of the eye.”

In the spring of 1912, two men arrived in Dubuque and began shooting the photographs that would become the Klauer Collection. Travelling throughout the city, these anonymous photographers captured the heartbeat of Dubuque – the workers. From the operating rooms of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital to factory laborers, the photographers captured over 500 images. These photographs inspired the 2012 project which sought to recreate the Klauer Collection using the same turn-of-the-century equipment but in contemporary settings. The result are two photo art books that compare Dubuque 1912 and 2012.

The basis for A City at Work’s success is its ability to put faces to the legacy of Dubuque. From the bartender in 1912 to the print shop workers in the digital age, A City at Work emphasizes the value of progress and the necessity of tradition.

The 1912 collection of glass plate negatives was cleaned and archived, with prints from each professionally produced by Tim Olson. In 2012, Olson researched and photographed the same locations and occupations featured in the 1912 collection using 1912 era equipment. An exhibit of both collections side by side, Images of a City at Work: 1912 and 2012, was shown at the Dubuque Museum of Art where they attracted an audience of 2,466. The exhibit traveled to the Iowa state capital and was displayed in the rotunda in 2013. In 2014 the project was awarded a State Historical Society of Iowa’s Award for Excellence in History. The exhibits were made possible through the support of the Loras College, Klauer Family Foundation, Gronen Restoration, Dubuque Old House Enthusiasts, Art Gumbo, Mediacom, State Historical Society of Iowa, Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities, City of Dubuque, Dubuque Main Street, Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“As a young man I was lucky enough to know people who lived and worked in the 1912 world. And, if I’m lucky, perhaps as an old man I’ll meet some people who will go on to live and work in the world of 2112. And perhaps one of those people will continue this project,” Tim Olson, of Dubuque, the 2012 project photographer, stated.
Peter Klauer, founder of the Klauer Manufacturing Company, purchased the glass plate negatives from the traveling photographers and housed them in storage for over 60 years. In the 1980s, Klauer’s grandson, William, donated the prints to the Center for Dubuque History at Loras College. The collection of prints is now known as the William J. Klauer, Sr. Collection.

Tim Olson is an artist and photographer living in Dubuque, Iowa. He worked for many years as a printer and technician in Chicago photography studios. Since moving to Dubuque with his family in 2002, he has completed five large photography projects documenting Iowans and their stories: The City at Work project in 2012, the Dubuquefest Panorama in 2013, Millwork Portraits in 2015, St. Mary’s to Steeple Square in 2016 and the Iowa State Fair Panorama in 2017.

A native of Pocatello, Idaho Mike Gibson has been the director of the Loras College Center for Dubuque History for 36 years. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in history and is a graduate of the Modern Archives Institute in Washington, DC. Articles by Mike have been published in The Journal of Popular Culture, The Palimpsest and The Annals of Iowa. For 10 years he served as book review editor for The Annals of Iowa. He and his wife, Dr. Teresa Eckhart, live in Dubuque and are the proud parents of four children.

Contributors Kristin Anderson-Bricker is a professor of history at Loras College. She teaches American social and cultural history. Mary Allison Farley served as project director of “Iowa Women in the Workplace,” a traveling exhibit featuring photographs from the Klauer Collection. Duane Hagerty is a historic preservation expert. He lives in Dubuque, Iowa and is president and CEO of Heritage Works, Inc., a nonprofit focusing on historic preservation as a catalyst for community development. Daniel Joseph Rapp is a local historian, genealogist and “riverlorian” whose family started as European settlers in Dubuque in the mid-1840s.

For more information, please contact Michael Gibson, Director of the Center for Dubuque History, by calling 563-588-7163 or emailing michael.gibson@loras.edu.