In May 1912, two men spent a few weeks photographing Dubuque citizens, businesses, and buildings. Their intention was to make a profit by selling the photos to those people and businesses they captured on film. When they left town, they left behind roughly 440 glass plate negatives which were purchased at the time by local businessman Peter Klauer, then President of Klauer Manufacturing. These photographs sat in storage for many decades but were eventually re-discovered in the 1980’s and given by the Klauer family to the Center for Dubuque History at Loras College. The negatives are now known as The Klauer Collection and have become one of the most significant historical records of early 20th century Dubuque.
Using The Klauer Collection for the basis of this project, local artist and photographer Tim Olson has endeavored to capture some of the same views in early 21st century Dubuque. Using a similar, but modern, version of equipment that was used in 1912, Mr. Olson has captured many of the same views, businesses, buildings, and industries. The resulting exhibition, A City at Work: 1912 and 2012, showcases both the historic and contemporary photographs. The juxtaposition of both the old and new images tell a story of remarkable change – reflecting dynamic transformations in economics, technology, diversity, and human progress.