Vintage Photos of ‘the Worlds of Bertha Shambaugh’ at 219 N Clinton Street, Iowa City

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Bertha Maude Horack Shambaugh was born in 1871 to Czech-born immigrants Frank and Katherine Horack. The family moved to Iowa City in 1880, when she was nine. In 1888, at the age of 17, she received a camera, becoming a very competent photographer by combining her technical skill in large-format, dry plate photography with a keen aesthetic sensibility.

Bertha took pride in her photography, as evidenced by her mounting, matting and framing of her images. Her most famous photographs document the daily life in the Amana Colonies, the majority taken in 1890-91.
The following year, Bertha met Benjamin Shambaugh, the first superintendent of the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) and an early champion of the importance of local history, marrying him in 1897. Once married, she didn’t use her camera much, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t have a hand in the photographs taken of her home. She also played an important role at SHSI, editing manuscripts, designing book covers, and collecting manuscripts and objects for the society.
These vintage photos from The State Historical Society of Iowa that show exterior and interior of Bertha Shambaugh’s house at 219 N Clinton Street, Iowa City in the late 19th and early 20th century.
A view of the Horack family’s sitting room, which contains numerous hallmarks of Victorian interior decorating. An easel displays a print of a peasant woman and child, circa 1887-1889

A view of the facade of the Horack home, possibly in early spring or late fall, circa 1887-1889

A view of the Horack family’s parlor with wicker chair, circa 1887-1889

Horack house, dining area with a dining table and buffet to the right, circa 1887-1889

A view of the parlor with the Splendid stove to the right and the roll top desk to the left. In the center is an upholstered rocking chair, circa 1888-1889

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