The images presented here are part of a donation we are calling the Sawyer Collection. The images have come from multiple photography studios, some of them unidentified. Most were taken by the Kiser Studio of Portland, Oregon in the 'Teens and early 'Twenties, especially of rugged scenes in Crater Lake and Glacier National Parks and along the Columbia River. A small collection was taken 1905-07 by photographer H. G. Peabody of Massachusetts and Maine urban and coastal scenes. An anonymous collection portrays architectural and rural views taken in Central Mexico in the same era.
The collection was saved and cared for by William Gruber, who had a long working relationship with the Portland photography studio Sawyer Service Inc. Gruber was the inventor of the popular View-Master, which he produced in collaboration with Sawyer’s. According to the donor, in 1939 Sawyer’s was poised to dispose of these glass plate negatives in order to focus on the View-Master, when Gruber offered to take the plates. Over the past eight decades, the Gruber family has meticulously maintained the collection of approximately 3,000 plates, weighing roughly half a ton. Southern Oregon Historical Society received the plates as a donation in 2019, and has made them publicly available with additional grant funding from Oregon Parks and Recreation and the Oregon Cultural Trust.