Vassar, Michigan 1949–50:
Photographs by Dick Swanson

Publication year: 2009
Format: Hardcover, 46 pages
Size: 11.25 x 8.75 in.
Product #: SM-PB001
Price: US$93.00 Out of print

We might publish a new edition of this book if there is sufficient interest. Contact us to let us know if you're interested and whether you would prefer a regular book or an eBook.

Note: As an option, you can purchase digital prints of individual images (see below). Many of these images also are available as original gelatin silver darkroom prints. See The Photography of Dick Swanson.

 Book description (from the Introduction)

As a young freelance photographer in Vassar, Michigan, Dick Swanson took hundreds of pictures for local newspapers, businesses, schools and individuals during the late 1940s and early 1950s. These black and white images, taken with a Graflex Speed Graphic large format camera, capture virtually every aspect of a typical small midwestern U.S. town shortly after World War II.

The subjects of these photographs range from school cooks to football players; from power plants to old hotel rooms. Several images document post-war events such as memorial ceremonies and the immigration of European refugees.

Some of the photographs come from Swanson's coverage of the Vassar Centennial celebration in 1949. Over several days, as residents donned vintage nineteenth-century clothing and participated in activities of a bygone era, Swanson created dozens of striking (and often humorous) images in which time and place are ambiguous, and whose subjects appear at once familiar and strange.

A perfect gift for a family member from Michigan or aficionado of American social documentary photography!


Thirty-six (36) black & white photographs. (You can preview all the images below.)


  • City and Civic Life
  • Vassar Centennial
  • Kids and School
  • Work and Industry

Below are all 36 photographs featured in the book. Click the thumbnails to learn about the image or purchase a photo print.

Vassar Centennial Memorial Park Dedication Recording Star Town Meeting Downtown Flood Lowering the Flag Estonian Refugees Hotel Room Centennial Costumes
Parade Float Organ Grinder Bubblegum Boy Most Freckles Prize Winners Governor's Day Mrs. Vassar Mr. Vassar VFW Gathering For the Beardless
Boy and Cow Kids and Pets Santa and Kids Future Farmers of America Home Economics Football Player We Won High School Play High School Initiation
Division Street Maple Syrup Canning Eaton Smokestacks Eaton Service Awards Engineers at Work Secretaries at Work Upside-Down Truck Self Portrait in Power Plant