James C. Freeman Photographic collection,   1893, 1918, and undated
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection includes glass-plate negatives, one Kodak safety film negative, a postcard, prints created from the negatives, duplicates of the prints, and some original prints for which there are no extant negatives. Some of the photographs are mounted on board, postcards, or other paper. Some of the glass-plate negatives were sent by Clarke staff in the early 1970s to the University of Michigan where prints were created from the plates. Additional prints were created over time. The prints originally created from the plates measure 4”x5”. Later copies measure 5”x7” and 8”x10”. The glass-plate images have very sharp detail. The miscellaneous images in the collection vary in size and are mounted on postcards, soft paper, or board. A total of 75 negatives and 185 images (including copies) compose the collection.

The collection is divided by format, then alphabetically organized by topic. Box 1 includes Biographical Information (copies, 1 folder) and Photographs. Box 2 includes Glass-plate Negatives.

Most of the original images were taken by James C. Freeman. Some are signed on the back “J. C. Freeman” or have notes from Mary, such as an image of Mount Pleasant rooftops in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, General Views folder, which reads on the back “Papa took this picture from the courthouse cupola Mt. P.” Other images have notations on them and include either James or Mary’s names or both.

After the collection came to the Clarke, it was widely dispersed over time between many general Michigan photograph files. The unlabeled boxes of negatives were housed in the old map room of the Clarke. In 2007 a request was made to recompile as much of the collection as was possible. This collection is the result. For some images there are multiple negatives, multiple prints, multiple copies, or no copies or no negatives.

The collection includes James C. Freeman’s local photographs of downtown Mount Pleasant, Michigan, buildings, notably the Isabella County Courthouse, general views of town, a baseball game, a train by the depot, and three men fishing. Also included are photographs of Central Michigan University (CMU) buildings, and the only extant photograph of Mr. Grawn at CMU with faculty, which is dated 1917-1918. One image of the Old Main building has a notation on the back of the print which states that it was used by the 1893 Mount Pleasant newspaper in an article about the groundbreaking at CMU. An etching based on the photograph was actually used in the paper, not the image itself. Many images of the Mount Pleasant Indian School, mostly of buildings and a few of staff and students, are also included. None of the other photographs are dated, but they all appear to be from the 1890s.

Many images of Apaches and Sioux, Indian schools on their reservations, Sioux teepees, and western scenic scenes, one of which is labeled “below rim Grand Canyon” are also in the collection. Whites and Native Americans are shown in the school and scenic views. These images were originally divided simply into Sioux or Apache folders. Most Apache reservations are in Arizona, as is the Grand Canyon. The archivist was unable to determine which Apache tribe/s are represented in these images or precisely where the images were taken, except that they were likely taken in Arizona. The Sioux images are from an unspecified South Dakota reservation.

The western and scenic views have either [Apache] or [Sioux] at the end of their label indicating their folder of origin. The archivist maintained the folder labels following the arrangement used in the Michigan general photographs collection folders at the Clarke as much as possible to allow patrons who have used the photographs in those folders to find photographs of interest in this collection.

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