Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential

Center

 

Ernst Niebergall

 

FR-23

 

 

Introduction

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Inventory

 

Introduction

 

The Ernst Niebergall Photograph Collection is part of the larger Charles E. Frohman Collection.  The collection was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center by Mr. Frohman in 1967. Additional information on Ernst Niebergall can be found in the Biographical file at the Hayes Presidential Center

 

Biographical Sketch

 

Ernst Niebergall was born in Cologne, Germany on July 9, 1876 to Peter and Clara Niebergall.  Little is known about Niebergall’s early life in Germany.  He departed from Bremen, Germany on February 27th, 1904, and arrived alone on March 8th in New York City. His ultimate destination was the city of Montreal. In January 1906, he came to the United States aboard the “Queen Louise.”  Two years later, he settled permanently in Sandusky, Ohio.

For the next forty-six years he worked as a professional photographer. He photographed the everyday lives of the people of Lake Erie’s southern shoreline communities. These included schools, clubs, farms, buildings, houses, boats, early aviators, fishermen, ice harvesters, and factory workers. He also photographed landscapes, birds, animals, freight trains, and natural disasters. His pictures were featured frequently in newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and on postcards.

During World War I, the federal government viewed Niebergall with suspicion. Despite living in the United States for many years, he remained a citizen of Germany. As a German citizen, he hoped to inherit his father’s estate. On February 5, 1918, he registered as an enemy alien with Sandusky’s Chief of Police.  Agents of the U. S. Justice Department impounded his 14 cameras and seized his glass plate negatives featuring maritime subjects. After peace was declared, Niebergall’s cameras were returned and he resumed his work. 

 

When WWII began, Niebergall voluntarily surrendered his cameras. Following the war, Niebergall continued his work as a professional photographer, but his commission work plummeted as a result of the advances in photographic techniques that took place during the war years.

 

Prior to his death on February 7th, 1954, historian Charles E. Frohman purchased many of Niebergall’s glass plate negatives, prints, and record books. Niebergall never married and had no children or property at the time of his death.   He was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio. 

 

Scope and Content

 

The collection of more than a thousand images consists primarily of photographic prints and negatives (flexible and glass plate) taken by professional photographer Ernst Niebergall, dating from approximately 1908 to 1953. The bulk of the photographs were taken prior to World War I. Very few of the images were taken after 1941. They represent his commissioned work and as well as images Niebergall produced for sale as as postcards and art prints. The images depict Lake Erie’s shoreline, businesses, churches, lake cottages, recreational areas, landscapes, natural disasters, natural phenomenon, clouds, flowers, seagulls, sailboats, commercial power boats, ice harvesting, early aviation, trains, organizations, students, and residents of Lake Erie’s western basin communities: Sandusky, Huron, Lorain, Fremont, Tiffin, Milan, Castalia, Mittawanga, Rye Beach, and the Erie Islands. The photographs are generally grouped by subject matter in a series of 41 albums. Copies (made up of photocopies of the prints) for these 41 albums are available for patron use. There are a few panoramic prints of Castalia, Ohio’s Blue Hole and the Castalia Trout Club.   

 

A few undated photographs from Sandusky, Ohio’s W. A. Bishop and Platt Studios are part of this collection. Also included are identified portraits arranged alphabetically by surname (Boxes 42a through 42f) from the Mound Studio. These were no doubt a part of Niebergall’s collection and were included in the Frohman acquisition. 

 

The collection contains ledgers, documenting expenses, account information, photographic subject matter, and dates. They include four “Photographic Expenses” ledgers dating from 1906 to 1941, two “Living Expenses” ledgers spanning the years between 1922 and 1941, and four “Photo Records/Accounts” ledgers dating from 1924 to 1953.  Each is organized chronologically and provides detailed descriptions of expenditures or customer information.  The remaining pieces of the collection contain 5” x 8” cards (arranged alphabetically), listing names/organizations, addresses, and photograph numbers dating from 1909 to 1941.

 

The late Charles E. Frohman identified and dated many of the photographs, however, there are many individuals, buildings, organizations, and locations that are not identified.  A close study of Niebergall’s ledgers may reveal the identification of some of the remaining photographs. Many of the photographs have been scanned and appear with dates and descriptions online at Lake Erie’s Yesterdays.

 

Inventory

 

 

Album 1:

Sandusky High School Band

 

Album 2: 

Mitawanga & Ruggles Beach

 

Album 3:

Seagulls

 

Album 4:

Seagulls

 

Album 5:

 Sandusky, Ohio – J

 

Album 6: 

Sandusky, Ohio - M

 

Album 7:   

Milan, Sandusky & Castalia, Ohio - K

 

Album 8:

Huron & Rye Beach, Ohio – O

Photos 1-100

 

Album 8: 

Huron & Rye Beach, Ohio – O

Photos 101-166

 

Album 9:

Milan, Ohio - S

 

Album 10:

Sandusky, Ohio Street Construction

 

Album 11: 

Camp Fire Girls, 1929-1934

 

Album 12:

Sandusky, Ohio Bay Bridge

 

Album 13:

Railroads

 

Album 14:

Aviation

 

Album 15:

Sandusky, Ohio & WWI

(Photos 1-79)

 

Album 15:

Sandusky, Ohio & WWI

(Photos 80-174)

 

Album 16:

Sandusky, Ohio Miscellany

Kelly’s Island Glacial Grooves - I

 

Album 17: 

Sandusky, Ohio Business & Industry

Churches

Miscellany

 

Album 18: 

Sandusky, Ohio

Churches, Sports & Theater

 

Album 19:

Fremont, Ohio

 

Album 20:

Castalia, Ohio

 

Album 21:

Tiffin, Ohio

 

Album 22: 

Carey, Ohio

 

Album 23: 

Sandusky Garden Club, 1931

 

Album 24:

 Advertisements

 

Album 25: 

Sandusky Garden Club, 11929

 

Album 26: 

Erie Islands Area – A

 

Album 27: 

Advertisements

 

Album 28:

Exotic Flowers

 

Album 29: 

Sandusky High School Groups – 1930

 

Album 30: 

Backyard Gardens

 

Album 31:

Sandusky Junior High School

 

Album 32: 

Kelly’s Island, Ohio – Q

 

Album 33: 

Soldier’s Home

Sandusky, Ohio – V

 

Album 34:

Soldier’s Home

Sandusky, Ohio – R

 

Album 35:

Oversize D

Photos 1-27

 

Album 35:

Oversize B

Photos 28-55

 

Album 36:

Oversize B

Photos 31-67

 

Album 37:

Oversize E

Photos 1-26

 

Album 37:

Oversize E

Photos 27-52

 

Album 38:

Oversize F

Photos 1-33

 

Album 38:

Oversize F

Photos 34-67

 

Album 39:

Oversize G

Photos 1-21

 

Album 39:

Oversize G

Photos 22-47

 

Album 40:

Oversize C

Photos 1-25

 

Album 40:

Oversize C

Photos 26-49

 

Album 41:

Winter & Ice Harvesting – P

 

Album 42a

Portrait Series

Mound Studio, Sandusky, Ohio

(B-Knupke)

 

Album 42b

Portrait Series

Mound Studio, Sandusky, Ohio

(Mack-Miller)

 

Album 42c

Portrait Series

Mound Studio, Sandusky, Ohio

(Pfeiffer-Ramsey)

 

Album 42d

Portrait Series

Mound Studio, Sandusky, Ohio

(Reamer-Ritter)

 

Album 42e

Portrait Series

Mound Studio, Sandusky, Ohio

(Roberts-Squire)

 

Album 42f

Portrait Series

Mound Studio, Sandusky, Ohio

(StafflerWhinney)

 

Album 43

Art Print Series

Animals – Lilies (Prints)

Animals

Clouds -

Clouds – Gold Prints

Clouds – Silver Prints

Dogs

Ducks

Flowers

Flowers – Dahlias

Flower – Easter Lilies, 1932

Gold Prints

 

Album 44

Art Print Series

Holidays – Water (Prints)

Holidays

Kelly’s Island/Grape Clusters Etc

Lightning

 “Lonesome?”

Model Kitchen

People

Pigs

Silver

Snow & Ice & Frost

Squirrels

Water

 

Album 45

Art Print Series

Seagulls (Prints)

Seagulls (#46-#86)

Seagulls (#87)

Seagulls (#88-#152)

Seagulls (#157-#187)

Seagulls (#188-#227)

Seagulls (#229-#247)

 

Album 46

Art Print Series

Seagulls (Flex & Glass Negatives)

Album 47

Art Print Series

Sailboats (Prints)

Sailboats (1)

Sailboats (2)

 

Album 48

Art Print Series

Sailboats (Flex & Glass Negatives)

 

Album 49

Art Print Series

Autos – Water (Negatives & Glass Negatives)

Autos

Buildings

Clouds

Churches

Construction

Flowers (Negatives & Glass Negatives)

Flowers – Dahlias

Flowers – Easter Lilies – 1932 (Negatives & Glass Negatives)

Model Kitchen

Music

Old Boats List

People

Printed Material/Documents, Newspapers, Etc. (1)

Printed Material/Documents, Newspapers, Etc. (2)

Snow & Ice & Frost (Negatives & Glass Negatives)

Sports

Water

 

Album 50

Commercial Power Boat Series

(Prints and Glass Negatives)

 

Box 51

Records

Folder 1:

Photographic Expenses IV – 1927 – 1941

Folder 2:

Printed Material/Documents – Newspaper, Etc. - Prints

Folder 3:

Lists from 1916-1939

Folder 4:
Negative and Album Lists
Folder 5:

Lists of W.A. Bishop’s Old Negatives

Folder 6:

Lists of Old Books

Folder 7:

Living Expenses VII – 1922 – 1931

Folder 8:

Living Expenses VIII – 1932 – 1941

Folder 9:

Customer Lists, 1909 – 1941 (A-I)

Folder 10:

Customer Lists, 1909-1941 (J-Z)

 

Box 52

Records

Folder 1:

Photo Records/Accounts II - #1 - #1950 (1924 - 1941)

Folder 2:

Photo Records/Accounts II - #2569 - #4444 (1922 – 1930)

Folder 3:

Photo Records/Accounts III - #4445 - #5478 (1930 – 1937)

Folder 4:

Photo Records/ Accounts IV - #5479 (1930 – 1953)

Folder 5:

Photographic Expenses I (1902 – 1911)

Folder 6:

Photographic Expenses II (1912 – 1917)

Folder 7:

Photographic Expenses III (1918 – 1926)

Box 53

Records and Reprints

Folder 1:

Put-In-Bay (Reprints – 11 x 14)

1912 - 1938

Folder 2:

Photo Records/Accounts II - #1 - #1950 (1924 - 1941)

 

Box 54

Panoramic Views

Blue Hole, Castalia, Ohio

 

Box 55

Panoramic Views

Castalia Trout Club, Castalia, Ohio

 

56 (Oversize Folder)

Seagulls