NIEBERGALL, ERNST PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION

Charles E. Frohman Collections

Collection ID: FR-23
Location: FR-23

(Description ID: 595721)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

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
(Staffler – Whinney)

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                                                                                                                                                        

Ac.6046 

Box 57 - Glass Negatives (Oversize) #1 - #3

#1 - Jackson Jr. High School, Sandusky, Ohio; Gymnasium (Interior); Women's Club Meeting?

#2 - Jackson Jr. High School, Sandusky, Ohio; Gymnasium (Interior); Women's Club Meeting?

#3 - Jackson Jr. High School, Sandusky, Ohio; Gymnasium (Interior); Women's Club Meeting?

 

Box 58 - Glass Negatives (Oversize) #4 - #7

#4 - Unidentified religious group outside of unidentified church

#5/5a. (glass/flexible negative) - Unidentified group outside of unidentified church; Building is inscribed with the phrases:  "Wisdom Standeth Where The Faiths Meet" / "The Testimony Of Jesus Is The Spirit OF Prophecy"

#6 - (flexible negative) - Unidentified group of men outside of unidentified church

#7 - Unidentified factory (Interior)

 

Box 59 - Glass Negatives (Oversize) #8 - #11

#8 -   Unidentified factory (Interior); label on machine - "Youngstown Miller Oil Purifier, Clean Oil - Clean Engines

#9 -   Unidentified factory (Interior)

#10 - Universal Concrete Pipe Co. (Exterior)

#11 - Sandusky Glass Co. - Employee Picnic; May 28, 1916