Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Clarkston (Mich.) photographic collection

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Clarkston (Mich.) photographic collection,
Creator: Petty Photography Studio (Clarkston, Mich.)
Inclusive dates: 1880, 1920, and undated
Extent: 1.5 cubic feet (in 3 boxes)
The collection includes glass-plate negatives and prints of Clarkston, Michigan, people and buildings.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

no Acc#

Access Restrictions:

Clarkston (Mich.) photographic collection is open for research.


Some of the images have been reproduced in a book which is under copyright, otherwise copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Clarkston (Mich.) photographic collection, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is by format and size, then alphabetical by topic, and chronological.



In the book, Heritage: a pictorial history of Independence Township and the village of Clarkston, edited by Jennifer L. Radcliff (copyright 1976), there are two notations that there was a Petty Photography Studio in Clarkston. Additional information on Petty or other photographers is not included in the book. Other books on Oakland County history, including directories and the 1896 and 1906 atlases do not list any local photographers in their business directory listings. Additional research has failed to locate additional information on Mr. Petty or his studio.

In the collection, there are two photographic prints of two women sitting at a dining room table preparing to eat in which a male photographer and his camera are clearly reflected in a mirror at the rear of the table. Also there are two glass-plate negatives of different size of the same image of men outside of a building with a large PHOTOGRAPHS sign over the front door. It is obvious that at some point in the late 19th century that there was a local photographer, probably Petty, who had his own photography shop in town. It is possible from the range of dates the images in the collection, late 19th century through 1920s, that this collection is compiled from the work of several photographers or one who had a long career. Which of these options is correct is unknown at this time.

As noted on the previous page, some of the images have been reproduced in the book, Heritage: a pictorial history of Independence Township and the village of Clarkston, edited by Jennifer L. Radcliff (copyright 1976). Some of these same images have also been reproduced and are available for purchase on the Clarkston Area historical Society’s website,, (copyright 2004, viewed in May 2007). Copyright for some of the images is therefore definitely NOT held by the Clarke. Any identifying information about the images in the book has been noted on the negative sleeves.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection nicely documents the people and buildings of Clarkston, Michigan, from the late 19th century through the 1920s. The collection includes both glass-plate negatives and some photographic prints which were printed from glass-plate negatives which are not in the collection. The only dated images, identified in the book, are dated 1906, 1910, 1913, 1917, and 1920s. Most of the images are undated.

The glass-plate negatives are all in good condition. They should be handled with care by patrons wearing gloves. They measure 4x5, 5x7, or 6.5x 8.5 inches. They have been divided by size and then by topic. Topics include Portraits of Groups, Children, Couples, Men, and Women; Houses; Photographers; Public Buildings; Schools; and Miscellaneous (funeral flowers, a collage of images, etc.). One glass-plate negative portrait of a photograph of a man in a mat includes “Grayling, Imperial Art Studio” on the mat.

The photographic prints made from glass-plate negatives are also in good condition. They measure 5x4 or 8x10 inches. They are divided into the same topics and include another topic, People with Horses. The prints are fine quality for the most part, showing great details. At least one of the prints was made from a partially broken plate with missing pieces (see Photographs, 8x10, Men Portraits, Undated). It is clear from the style of hair and clothing in these prints that a majority of them may date from the 1880s. None of the people are identified. It is possible that the photographic images are actually from another collection and may not be Clarkston natives. Over time it is possible that the two boxes came to be together because of size only. This, however, can not be proven at this point.

Subject Terms

    • Photography--Michigan.
    • Photographers--Michigan.
    • Clarkston (Mich.)--History.
    • Clarkston (Mich.)--Photographs.
    • Oakland County (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Clarkston (Mich.) photographic collection. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Glass-plate Negatives, 4x5 inches, Group Portraits (2 Folders-11 total), undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Glass-plate Negatives, 4x5 inches, Group Portraits and Houses (4 folders-22 total), undated
    Box   1 F   3
    Glass-plate Negatives, 4x5 inches, Houses (2 folders-10 total), undated
    Box   1 F   4
    Glass-plate Negatives, 4x5 inches, Miscellaneous (3 total), 1920, and undated
    Box   1 F   5
    Glass-plate Negatives, 4x5 inches, Photographers (1 total), undated
    Box   1 F   6
    Glass-plate Negatives, 4x5 inches, Public Buildings (2 folders-9 total), 1910, 1917, and undated
    Box   1 F   7
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Children Portraits (3 folders-11 total), undated
    Box   2 F   1
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Children Group Portraits (4), undated
    Box   2 F   2
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Group Portraits (3), undated
    Box   2 F   3
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Miscellaneous (4), undated
    Box   2 F   4
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Men Portraits (4), undated
    Box   2 F   5
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Photographers (1), undated
    Box   2 F   6
    Glass-plate Negatives, 5x7 inches, Women Portraits (2 folders-6 total), undated
    Box   2 F   7
    Glass-plate Negatives, 6.5x8.5 inches, Group Portraits (3 folders-6 total), undated
    Box   2 F   8
    Glass-plate Negatives, 6.5x8.5 inches, Miscellaneous (2 folders-4 total), undated
    Box   2 F   9
    Glass-plate Negatives, 6.5x8.5 inches, Public Buildings (2 folders-4 total), 1906, 1913, and 1920s
    Box   2 F   10
    Glass-plate Negatives, 6.5x8.5 inches, School Portrait (2), undated
    Box   3 F   1
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Couples Portraits (8), undated
    Box   3 F   2
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Group Portraits (11), undated
    Box   3 F   3
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Houses (5), undated
    Box   3 F   4
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Miscellaneous (6), undated
    Box   3 F   5
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, People with Horses (3), undated
    Box   3 F   6
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Photographers (2), undated
    Box   3 F   7
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Public Buildings (3), undated
    Box   3 F   8
    Photographs, 5x4 inches, Single Portraits (8), undated
    Box   3 F   9
    Photographs, 8x10 inches, Children Portraits (14), undated
    Box   3 F   10
    Photographs, 8x10 inches, Couple Portraits (14), undated
    Box   3 F   11
    Photographs, 8x10 inches, Group Portraits (5), undated
    Box   3 F   12
    Photographs, 8x10 inches, Men Portraits (20), undated
    Box   3 F   13
    Photographs, 8x10 inches, Miscellaneous (1), undated
    Box   3 F   14
    Photographs, 8x10 inches, Women Portraits (25), undated