Photograph Collection

Main Library
Louis Stokes Wing
4th Floor
525 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

Contact: Brian Meggitt

With more than 1.3 million photographs, the Photograph Collection is a tremendous resource for historians, film and video professionals, genealogists, sports enthusiasts, fashion designers and students of documentary history.

Materials in the Collection are primarily in black and white and cover the period of the 1850s through the 1980s. Drawn primarily from local newspaper morgues and photograph archives, this collection captures moments in the lives of people from Ohio, the U.S., and other nations.

The Collection

Some of our collection has been digitized and is available to view online in our Digital Gallery.

Biography Collection: Biographical photographs arranged by the name of the individual depicted and ranging in variety from world figures to local celebrities. Theater performers and movie actors appear in great numbers as do statesmen and criminals. Holdings range from studio portraits of John D. Rockefeller and candid photographs of Eliot Ness to people from all walks of life.
Cleveland Photographs: A unique collection of photographs on the history of Cleveland. Subject headings include the Great Lakes Exposition, the Cleveland National Air Races and local Schools, Churches, Industries, Railroads and Streetcars to name only a few.
Subject Collection: Images depict 20th century history and events including both World Wars. Photographs of locations around the world include countries, cities, towns, rivers and historic landmarks. Subject headings range from Abbeys, Costumes, and Transportation to X-rays with a great variety in between.
Mears Collection: Historic photographs of baseball teams and players depict the Cleveland Base Ball Club of 1892 (Cleveland Spiders), the Chicago Base Ball Team of 1885, the Athletics in 1901, and the Cincinnati Red Stockings photographed by Mathew Brady in 1869.
McMichael Collection: The Photograph Collection began with a collection of photographs from the 19th century and early 20th century purchased from Stanley McMichael in 1929. The McMichael Collection depicts major Cleveland sites and is divided into subject categories such as bridges, buildings, canals, churches, docks, etc.
Photographers of Note: Included in the Collection are Otis Steel Mill photographs by Margaret Bourke-White. Also represented are professional portrait photographers George Edmondson and Ethel Standiford, photographers of prominent Clevelanders, Jasper Wood, who photographed Cleveland’s Scovill neighborhoods, George Ketteringham, ubiquitous early 20th century amateur photographer. Arthur Gray, who photographed the Flats, downtown and the Cleveland skyline in the 1930s, and Andrew Borowiec, whose 21st century photographs of the Flats were taken 2002-2003, are also represented.
Theater Collection: A collection of Cartes de Visite and Cabinet Cards. The dominant form of portraiture from the mid-1850s through the 1860s usually portrayed the sitter in a head and shoulders composition. The processes enabled photographers to mass produce portraits of theatrical celebrities.
Walker & Weeks Collection: Architectural photographs of local landmarks designed by this prominent firm includes images of Cleveland Public Library’s Main Building, Public Auditorium and Cleveland Municipal Stadium


Although this is a non-circulating collection, copies of the images may be obtained for a fee. Please contact the Photograph Collection for information.