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MS-024 Lutzenberger Collection

Lutzenberger Collection

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Guide to the Lutzenberger Collection

Dayton Metro Library
215 E. Third Street
Dayton, OH 45402


Profile Description

Creation: Finding aid encoded by Lisa Rickey using the OhioLINK EAD Application in 2008
Langusage: Finding aid written in English

Overview of the Collection

Repository:Dayton Metro Library
Creator:Lutzenberger, William, 1853-1941
Title:Lutzenberger Collection
Extent:57.5 linear feet (2 boxes and 691 photographs)
Abstract:The photographic collection of William Lutzenberger covers the period from 1870's-1941. The collection includes photographs, scrapbooks, drawings, correspondence and newspaper clippings. Most of the photographs have negatives, which may be borrowed, from the library to have prints made of them.
MS Number024
Language:The records are in English

Statement of Arrangement

The Lutzenberger Collection is arranged into two groups: Papers (2 boxes) and Photographs (691 items). Each photograph has a unique identifier (ID number).

Scope and Content

These pictures were taken by William Lutzenberger (b. Dec. 11, 1853 - d. April 8, 1941) using a camera he built himself. Mr. Lutzenberger probably acquired other photographs showing action scenes. Most of the photographs have negatives, which may be borrowed from the library to have prints made from them.

Mr. Lutzenberger's collection was purchased for the Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library in 1946 by a group of donors. Included among the well known landmarks of the old days, are the home of Clement Vallandigham (Dayton leader of the anti-Civil War, or "Copperhead" movement) on West First Street, the old YMCA (on the site of the old Post Office on West Fourth Street), the old railroad station, the Callahan Building (southeast corner of Third and Main Street), and the Beaver, Gebhart, Reeve, Thacker and Winters homes. None of these structures exist today.

There are many pictures of the old Miami-Erie Canal, including scenes along the towpath, the old locks, and the dry dock at Ludlow and Apple Streets. Also shown is the devastation along the canal caused by the floods of 1886 and 1913. Dayton's oldest surviving structure, the Newcom Cabin, dating to 1803, also appears in an 1886 photograph on its original site at Main Street and Monument Avenue.

This collection is considered one of the most complete pictorial histories of Dayton.

The collection covers the period from the mid-1870's to 1941. It includes nearly 700 photographs, scrapbooks providing brief notes about each photograph, such as date and short description and few newspaper clippings from the late 1930's and early 1940's, correspondence of Mr. William Hamilton with various organizations and the drawings of Mr. William Lutzenberger. The earliest dated photograph is from 1886 and the latest one is from 1930. Most of the photographs show still-life scenes and buildings in and around Dayton, many of which have since disappeared.

Biography of William Lutzenberger

William Lutzenberger was the son of John C. Lutzenberger and Elizabeth Christina Ashinger Lutzenberger. John Lutzenberger was born in Germany. He came to the U.S. with his family and eventually settled in Dayton in 1841. He married Elizabeth Christina in Preble County, Ohio in 1850. William was born December 11, 1853 in his parents' home on West Third Street in Dayton, which was over a grocery store operated by his father. On November 23, 1876, William Lutzenberger married Sallie Reed. They had two children, daughter Martha who married Mr. Richardson and son Herman Reed Lutzgenberger, who preseded his father in death on June 5th, 1928. William and Sallies marriage lasted over sixty-four years, ending with William's death on April 8, 1941.

As a child during the Civil War, William became a member of the "First Volunteer Woodcutters Regiment," an organization of Dayton boys formed for local service while their fathers, uncles and older brothers were in the army. Later he attended YMCA night school and studied mechanical drawing. In 1870, at the age of 16, he began working as a mechanical designer for the George J. Roberts Pump Company. He was one of the first members of the Miami Council No. 7, Junior Order of the United American Mechanics, which was organized in Arnold's Building on October 18, 1842 with eleven members. After 35 years with the Roberts Pump Company, he went to work for the Dayton Pipe Coupling Company as a draftsman, retiring in 1934 at the age of 80 after 29 years of service. He also taught mechanical drawing for 25 years at the YMCA night school.

Mr. Lutzenberger was a good free-hand artist as well as a draftsman. He drew up humorous invitations for the faculty parties of the night school, drawing comic strip characters and putting in photographs or drawings of his associates. From this came Christmas and New Year cards, which he made in the same manner, showing himself and his friends as comic strip characters. All of these humorous cards have survived and are preserved in Local History Room.

Mr. Lutzenberger's favorite hobby, however, was photography. As a young man he didn't have the money to buy one of the new-style cameras of the day, so he made one, complete with tripod, bellows and shutter. Only the lens was purchased, from a New York City supplier.

This camera served Mr. Lutzenberger throughout his life. Other photographers considered it perfectly adequate for still photography. He discovered that his camera took the best pictures in the light of early morning. For years he rose early on Sundays and holidays to do his photography. Some of his best pictures were taken with a half-hour exposure at dawn.

As a result of his work, Mr. Lutzenberger became a pictorial historian of Dayton. At the time of his death he had taken about 700 still photographs of scenes in and around Dayton with his home-made camera. Many of these scenes showed landmarks of Dayton which have since disappeared. His photographic collection has become a legacy to the community, and an invaluable part of Dayton history.

William Lutzenberger (1853-1941) was a local photographer in Dayton and took many photographs of Dayton buildings and scenes using a homemade camera.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Dayton (Ohio)--Biography
Dayton (Ohio)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Dayton (Ohio)--History--1865-


Lutzenberger, William, 1853-1941


Restrictions on Use

Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The William Lutzenberger Collection, a special collection of historical materials at the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Acquisition Information

The photographs were purchased in 1946 for the Dayton Library by a group of donors that included Victor Emanuel, Eugene Kennedy, Frank M. Tait, Samuel Thal, General Motors Corporation, IBM, and the Sheffield Foundation.

Related Material

Suggested search engines for locating other relevant materials: National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) and OCLC WorldCat .

Separated Material

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