Gale Family Library

345 W. Kellogg Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55102



Library Hours

Temporarily closed.


$6 per day

Using the Library

Collections OnlineTimepieces

Photograph Collection

50 The photograph collection holds examples of almost every form of photography practiced in Minnesota and nearly every subject that could be photographed here. Thousands of portraits capture the faces of Minnesotans, while thousands of landscape views depict the state's varied geography. People, both rural and urban, are photographed at work and at leisure.


The silver image known as the daguerreotype begins the state's visual history. It was quickly superseded by the calling card-sized carte-de-visite and the dual-image stereograph. Amateur photographs, postcards and commercial studio work continued the visual record of Minnesota at the turn of the last century. Newspaper photos, beginning about 1905, contributed thousands of additional images.


This vast collection of photographs documenting life in Minnesota is organized primarily by subject and place.


Several special collections reside within the photography collection.

  • The John Runk Collection traces the visual history of Stillwater and environs on the St. Croix River from 1900 to 1960.
  • The Norton and Peel Collection of 20,000 images shows Minneapolis and its varied businesses and industries from 1925 to 1965.
  • The William Roleff Collection provides a glimpse into the lives of lumberjacks during the first quarter of the 20th century.
  • The J. W. G. Dunn Collection illustrates family life in incredibly detailed photo albums made in St. Paul and Marine, Minnesota, between 1900 and 1934.
  • The Ole Aarseth Collection centers on farm life in western Minnesota from 1900 to 1917.
  • The Fine Art Photography Collection contains works of art by Minnesota photographers.


Searching the Collection

Most of the Society's photographs, portraits and fine art photographs are cataloged in the Collections Online database. Photo albums and collections of photos not yet cataloged in Collections Online are listed in the library catalog.


Some manuscript collections contain photographs. Search the library catalog for your topic, and then read the online manuscript inventories for mention of photographs. The Library has notebooks entitled "Photos in Manuscripts Collections" that further detail the photo content of manuscript collections.


Copy Services

Find information about the copy services available at the Society.


How to Donate

Donating items to the Society's collections.