Org. Lot 1284
Name and location of repository
Level of description
Al Monner news negatives
- 1936-1974 (Creation)
31 cubic feet; 77 document cases, 1 slim document case; 19,295 large format film negatives and approximately 20,000 35mm film negatives
Name of creator
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.
Name of creator
The Oregon Journal was an afternoon newspaper based in Portland, Oregon. Originally founded in March 1902 by Alfred D. Bowen under the name Evening Journal, Charles Samuel (“Sam”) Jackson purchased the newspaper that July and renamed it the Oregon Journal. Originally located in the Goodnaugh Building, the Journal’s offices moved to the Jackson Tower in 1912, where they remained until 1948, when the paper moved into the Public Market building on Portland’s waterfront. The Jackson family retained ownership of the paper until the death of C. S. Jackson’s son Philip in 1953.
The Journal was known for some innovations. It shipped additional issues to Oregon’s coastal towns during the summer months as a means of boosting circulation. It was also the first newspaper in the United States to own a helicopter, and its waterfront building included a helicopter pad.
The Journal was considered a rival to Portland’s other major newspaper, the Oregonian, throughout its existence. The Journal’s editorials favored the Democratic Party, in contrast with the Oregonian’s Republican leanings, and expressed what some labeled an anti-establishment tone. However, the two papers became intertwined as time went on. In the 1950s, the Journal began to suffer from revenue losses, and discussed the possibility of sharing production facilities with the Oregonian. For the first five months of the protracted Portland newspaper strike which began in 1959, the Journal and Oregonian published joint issues. In August 1961, the Oregonian Publishing Company, by then owned by newspaper mogul Samuel I. Newhouse, purchased the Journal for $8 million. With this sale, the Journal offices and production facilities merged with those of the Oregonian on SW Broadway, although the Journal retained its own editorial department and tone.
The Journal’s highest circulation was at 201,000 in March 1948. By 1982, circulation had reduced to a little more than 100,000, and the paper struggled to remain relevant in an age where afternoon newspapers were considered obsolete. The Journal published its final issue on September 6, 1982. The paper’s staff and production were then absorbed into the Oregonian.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
The vast majority of this collection is made up of negatives created by Al Monner for the Oregon Journal. A small number of negatives were likely created by fellow Journal photographer Ralph Vincent, also for the Oregon Journal. While it's likely that almost all the negatives in this collection were created as part of Monner's work for the Journal, some images may also be his personal work. Most of the negatives are black and white, with a handful of color images taken in the 1950s and 1960s. A small selection of images from 1936 to 1938 were likely taken during Monner's time at the Oregonian newspaper. Large-format negatives from 1936 to 1959 have been processed and inventoried, while 35mm film from 1959 to 1974 remains unprocessed.
The photographs highlight over 30 years of current events in and around the Portland area, with a smaller number taken elsewhere in the state. Yearly events, such as the Portland Rose Festival and the Pendleton Round-Up, are featured prominently. A substantial number of images from the 1940s show Portland war efforts during World War II, featuring photographs of shipyards, soldiers, and rationing efforts at home. A small number of photographs also show early incarceration of Japanese Americans. Monner also frequently photographed dam-building efforts on the Columbia River at Celilo Village, The Dalles, and Bonneville.
Also included are photographs of accident scenes, fires, explosions, new building projects, sporting events, contest winners, and important national figures visiting the Portland area. Taken together, the collection displays the breadth of Monner's work as a photojournalist, covering the everyday to the exciting.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Collection is open for research.
Negatives are not available for direct access. Contact staff for assistance.
Conditions governing reproduction
The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
A detailed inventory of negatives from 1936 to 1959 is available from library staff.
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Gift of Al Monner, 1986 (Lib. Acc. 17912, Photo Acc. 986D053).
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Other materials related to Al Monner and the Oregon Journal can be found in the following collections at the Oregon Historical Society: Oral history interview with Al Monner (SR 1068); Oregon Journal photographs collection (Org. Lot 1027); Oregon Journal photographic negatives (Org. Lot 1368); Donald D. Burkhart photographs (Org. Lot 371).
Preferred citation: Al Monner news negatives, Org. Lot 1284, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.
Subject access points
- Oregon--Politics and government--20th century
- World War, 1939-1945--War work--Oregon--Portland
- Portland Rose Festival (Portland, Or.)--Photographs
- Pendleton Round-Up--Photographs
- Dams--Lower Columbia River Watershed (Or. and Wash.)
Place access points
Name access points
- Oregon Journal (Firm) (Subject)