John Dobbek Negatives

John Dobbek (1906-1970) was a semi-professional photographer in Ontonagon, Michigan. He appears to have had a number of jobs besides photographer, including as a truck driver, pipe fitter, and plumber. John married Marion McKinnon (1906-1993), and they had two children, Delores and Dan. Delores Dobbek (1929-1954) left high school during her senior year in 1946 and was admitted to Pinecrest Sanatorium in Powers, Menominee County, Michigan. She died at the sanatorium eight years later. Many photographs in the collection depict her time in the institution. Dan Dobbek (born 1934) went on to become a professional baseball player. Some of the photographs document his high school, college, and early professional career.

The negatives give a broad view of life in the Ontonagon area in the 1940s and 1950s. Many are the personal family photographs of the Dobbek family, but there are also studio photographs Dobbek took for other local families and many photographs of local events such as parades, festivals, celebrations, athletics and theater at Ontonagon High School, natural disasters, weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations, and graduation ceremonies. Dobbek also took photographs for local businesses, civic organizations, industries (especially the pulp mill), and labor unions (especially Local 354 of the International Brotherhood of Papermakers). Most were likely taken in or near Ontonagon, Michigan. The dates assigned to the photographs are the dates given by whoever created the original inventory. In some cases, it appears that this date reflects when a photograph was copied to a new negative and not when it was originally taken. Some of the copied photographs appear to have originally been taken around the turn of the twentieth century, and the photographs date from as late as 1964. However, the vast majority of the photographs date from around 1940 to 1955. Some near duplicate photographs were weeded from the online version of the collection. If you are interested in viewing all photographs in an envelope, please contact us at and we will send you the full set.

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