Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Photographers

There were at least four photographers active in the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks area in the late 1880s:  William Caswell, Jacob Berg, George F. Blackburn, and William F. Sunderland.   All helped capture historic images of early events, new city buildings, and frontier townspeople.  Photographers Arthur C. Stone and William E. Butler came later, but they also made a contribution to the early history of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks.

Early newspaper accounts about the June 16, 1887 Grand Forks/East Grand Forks tornado mentioned that several of these gentlemen took damage photographs.  We have been able to locate only two of these photographs, both taken by George F. Blackburn.  These photographs are archived at the North Dakota State Historical Society in Bismarck.  A copy of one of these photographs is also located in the Department of Special Collection at the Chester Fritz Library on the University of North Dakota campus.

However, the local newspapers after the tornado mentioned that many photographs were taken and sold.  What happened to these old photographs?  We think that some of these still exist today, but are in private collections.  How would you identify any of these photographs if you saw them?  Cabinet photographs taken in the 1880s were mounted on hard cardboard that also bore the photographers name.  If you have old cabinet photographs that say Caswell, Berg, Blackburn, Sunderland, Stone, or Butler on them, you may have a jewel!  If you come across any of these pieces of Grand Forks history and are willing to share them, please use our contact form to send us a message.  Charles L. Judd was a photographer from Jamestown and Fargo, North Dakota and Anacortes, Washington. 



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