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Oral history interview with Al Monner [Sound Recording 05]
- 1993-03-04 (Creation)
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Alfred Anthony Monner was born on August 1, 1909, in Northeast Portland, Oregon. After spending much of his adolescence in the Kaskela and Madras areas, he later returned to Portland to attend Washington High School. Around this time, he also developed an interest in photography. After briefly attending Linfield College, he worked for Brubaker Surveys doing aerial photography, and as a printer for Photo Art Studio.
From 1936 to 1938, he worked as a photographer for the Oregonian newspaper in Portland, before being laid off. In 1938, he was hired as a photographer for the Oregon Journal newspaper, where he would stay until 1975. During his time as a photographer in Portland, Monner maintained friendships with fellow photographers in the area, including long-time friend Ray Atkeson. In the 1930s, he met Minor White, then a young freelancer living in Portland, and Monner later took master classes from him after White gained national recognition. Monner was also a member of the Oregon Camera Club. Beyond his commercial work for the Journal, Monner maintained a long-term personal interest in photography. He created photographs of Portland's Roma community, still-life scenes, landscapes, and portraits of everyday life in Oregon.
An avid outdoorsman as a young man, Monner was a member of the Mazamas, a mountaineering group in the Portland area, and was later a founding member of the Wy'East Climbers. Despite not considering himself a real climber, he summited Mount Hood 12 times, and also climbed Mount St. Helens. He continued to be a regular climber until the 1960s.
After retiring, Al Monner continued to take photographs for the Portland Art Museum. He died in 1998 after suffering a series of strokes.
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Tape 3, Side 1. This oral history interview with Al Monner was conducted by Donald J. Sterling at Monner’s home in Portland, Oregon, from February 25 to March 4, 1993. The interview was conducted in two sessions. In the second interview session, conducted on March 4, 1993, Monner revisits the topics of his family background, and working as a developer and photographer for Brubaker Aerial Surveys. He speaks about his early career as a photographer for the Oregonian newspaper and describes his photography equipment. He then discusses his career as a photographer for the Oregon Journal newspaper, his photography equipment, and some of his assignments. He also talks about his freelance work, as well as photography he did for himself; photographers he worked with, including Minor White; and his involvement with the Mazamas and mountain climbing. He speaks about his marriage to Catherine Elizabeth Gnadinger, and about his children, their careers, and their families. He speaks at length about photographing Portland’s Romani community and Native Americans. He then talks about Catherine Elizabeth Monner’s death in 1961 and his retirement activities. He closes the interview by discussing famous people and events that he photographed.
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Copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: Creative Commons - BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.
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- Sterling, Donald J., 1927- (Contributor)