In 1957 the museum became custodian of the remaining
glass plate negatives, photographs, and photography
equipment of Henry W. Immke.
His negatives and photographs are an important
addition to the museum’s archives. Though
predominantly portraits, these photos also include
local and area scenes. The plates are identified by
names and dates, making them invaluable tools for
The glass plate collection numbers approximately
20,000 – which includes the entire archive of Mr.
Immke’s studio portrait work, as well as his field
work and other personal family images. The images
contained in this collection have proven to be
important cultural documents of Illinois and
surrounding states during the second half of the
19th century. Mr. Immke’s single most important work
was the well known and much acclaimed composite
picture of over 400 of Bureau County’s Early
Settlers. The picture hangs in the meeting room of
the Bryant House museum building.
the other photos in the collection are scenes from:
Rock Island Arsenal after the Civil War
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago
Construction of the C B & Q Railroad outside of
Starved Rock State Park, Utica, Illinois
display at the Bryant House is a selection of Mr.
Immke’s photographic equipment, including studio
cameras and field cameras. These artifacts had been
miraculously well preserved over the years of
storage. There are many other pieces of equipment on
display such as stereo cameras (used to make
negatives for the very popular stereographs) and a
“Magic Lantern” oil burning projector, which
projected glass plate positives called “Lantern
Slides” for slides shows.
Henry W. Immke
Henry W. Immke was born in Hessen, Germany on March
9, 1839. He was the son of John and Christina (Apel)
Immke. Young Henry came to the states in 1855 and
settled near Peru, Illinois. He was engaged in
farming for about eight years. In 1863 he went to
Chicago to study photography with the noted
photographer, S.M. Fassett. Fassett had one of the
largest and best equipped galleries in the United
States during the Civil War era. Mr. Immke opened
his first Princeton studio in 1866 and was in
partnership with William Masters in the south end of
town. Five months later, Mr. Immke established his
own gallery at the north end of Princeton.
He married Miss Mary R. Steinbrook, a native of
Ohio. They had four children: William, Minnetta,
Pansy, and Leroy.
Mr. Immke practiced photography in Princeton from
1866 to 1923 and was a very successful photographer
and artist. He died in South Dakota in 1928. Mr.
Immke, his wife, and three of his four children are
buried in Oakland Cemetery, Princeton, Illinois.
Using the Immke Collection
are interested in finding out if your ancestor is
among the 20,000 negatives dating from 1867-1923,
download and complete the request form on this
website. Local scenes of businesses, residences,
and landscape are also available.
results of the search will be mailed to you, along
with an order form to purchase reprints from the
Click here to download a photo
search request form.