The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Exploring History and Mystery with this Week's #tbt

History and mystery.

There’s a lot of both in MidPointe Library’s latest digital photograph collection, the 800-plus Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection of early 20th century life in Monroe, Ohio.

Made available by the Monroe Historical Society, the massive collection of black-and-white photographs taken by Monroe businessman Marion G. Warner (1861-1922) is now available for viewing on MidPointe’s Digital Archives  ( It can also be seen on a 70-inch interactive touch screen at MidPointe’s Middletown location, where a set of enlarged photos is also displayed.

Mr. Warner’s photos, derived from individual glass plate negatives, reflect almost every aspect of life in the 1900s, 1910s and 1920s. It’s all there -- families, individuals of all ages, animals, people at work and at play, religious life, homes, stores, businesses, farms -- so different yet so familiar to today. Some of the photographs feature his family and his business.

While the majority of buildings in the collection have been identified, most of the people have not been identified, said Adam Wanter, MidPointe’s Digital and Special Collections archivist. Therefore MidPointe Library is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the unknowns.

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One example is the undated photo of “a large group of unknown men, women and children standing in front of a barn by the side of the road.” Depicted are about forty people  -- women in long dresses, barefoot children, men sporting suspenders -- standing in a single line the length of a dirt road, all facing the photographer. Who are they? Where are they? And why are they lining the road in a single line? With or without identification, Mr. Warner’s photos leave a lot to the imagination.

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Some photos identify certain individuals but not others. One example is a mini-collection of four photos of “the Hughes family” in which Elijah, Daniel, Walter and Samuel Hughes are identified, but the two women and the two children in the photos are not.

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Some buildings and farms still need identification, Wanter said. One intriguing photo features an extremely large house atop a hill with full-grown trees and a winding path in the foreground. Titled “Photograph of an unknown farm, 1912 July 30,” the visually appealing scene prompts one to wonder who and where are its inhabitants.

If you can identify people or places in the Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection or would like to correct items that have been misidentified please contact the library at