The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Business Man turned Amateur Photographer Preserves History of Monroe #tbt

In any pictorial history, human faces and figures elicit a great amount of interest.

That will likely be the case with MidPointe Library’s latest historical photo collection: the Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection of more than 800 black-and-white photographs depicting everyday life in early 20th-century Monroe, Ohio. The collection can now be viewed on the library’s Digital Archives as well as on a touchscreen at MidPointe’s Middletown location.

The collection was originally curated by and is made available to MidPointe Library courtesy of the Monroe Historical Society, which recently celebrated its 50th year of operation, said Adam Wanter, MidPointe’s Digital and Special Collections archivist. The city of Monroe celebrated its 200th anniversary last year. 

Captured by Monroe resident, businessman, druggist and amateur photographer Marion G. Warner (1861-1922), the remarkably sharp photos depict families, individuals of all ages, animals, homes, businesses, buildings, churches and many outdoor scenes from the 1900s, 1910s and 1920s.

According to local Historian Roger Miller, the photographs  in the collection were derived from 5x7 glass plate negatives that fortunately were found in a building that was to be torn down. Miller said that Mr. Jim Price discovered hundreds of the negatives while clearing property for the construction of the Historical Society’s museum and headquarters. With early 20th century history literally in their hands, historical society members scanned the images and graciously made them available to MidPointe Library for public viewing.

A man of many talents, Mr. Warner was an artist as well as a photographer. According to Historian Miller, Mr. Warner operated a general store on the present site of First Financial Bank and lived in a house across Elm Street. When he relocated his store, he built what is known as the “1910 Building,” now a part of the Monroe Historical Society.

marion blog 4518.jpg

Known or unknown, the men, women and children who appear in Mr. Warner’s photos remind us that people are basically the same no matter what the century. Some of the scenes could have been photographed today: a Boy Scout camping trip, people shoveling snow, children with their sleds, a multigenerational family standing in front of a house among others.

Fortunately for local history buffs, Mr. Warner’s keen eye produced a visual history of the time in which he lived: men sporting handlebar mustaches, “mutton chops,” or a “straw boater hat,” women in long skirts, a man delivering produce by horse and wagon, a farmer delivering hay on a mule wagon, men standing in front of a blacksmith’s shop and more.

marion blog 2 4518.jpg

The avid photographer-businessman also took photos of his own family and travel and leisure activities.

Mr. Warner’s glass plate negatives and his camera are among the artifacts located at the Monroe Historical Society Museum.*

The Marion G. Warner Photograph Collection can be accessed at http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/. Online visitors can click on the category of photo they wish to see : buildings, churches, homes and houses, people and families, business, street views, bridges.

At MidPointe Library Middletown, the collection appears in a photographic exhibit on a new 70-inch interactive touchscreen in its Local History and Genealogy Gallery, Enlarged prints of the photos will also be displayed. The library is located at 125 S. Broad Street.

For access to actual photographs, contact the Monroe Historical Society : http://monroeohhistoricalsociety.org/.

* Additional Resource : Page 64, “Monroe, Ohio...Firmly Founded...Proudly Growing,” copyright 2016 by the

Monroe Historical Society.Editors : Dorothy Smith, Anna Hale.

Can you help?  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  https://www.midpointelibrary.org/page/contact-form