The Farm Photographs of Andrew J. Mueller

Wisconsin Historical Images from the Wisconsin Historical Society
May 2014

FEATURED GALLERY
| Highlights from over three million photographs in our holdings

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Closeup of three cows standing side by side. WHI 83458


The Farm Photographs of Andrew J. Mueller

The photographs of Andrew John Mueller (1900-1984) combine a professional’s eye for careful composition with an amateur’s passion for rural life. The dozens of images that he preserved from the 1950s and ’60s are among the most compelling photographs of 20th-century Wisconsin farm life in the Society’s collections.

From Farm Boy to Photographer

Mueller was born February 2, 1900, in Germantown, Wisconsin, the youngest of five children of Barbara (Schoen) and John Mueller. He enjoyed farm work but also had conspicuous creative and artistic talent. He bought his first small box camera at 18 and by age 21 had saved $1,000 to attend the Layton School of Art. While attending Layton, he worked as an artist in Milwaukee, hand painting glass lampshades and working in the cabinet shop of Fred Garvens.

Always a Photographer

In 1938 Mueller took a job with Badger Printing in Appleton, Wisconsin. After a short time there, a commercial art position opened up with the Appleton Post Crescent, and he joined the newspaper’s staff. Within a few years the newspaper’s two photographers left for service in World War II, and Andrew became the paper’s photographer as well as being in charge of its art and photography department. He remained with the Appleton Post Crescent until his retirement in 1966.

Each day after his newspaper job ended, Mueller took photographs or made drawings on a freelance basis. He did this not only to augment his modest salary at the newspaper but also because of his love and passion for documenting rural life. His freelance work often carried him long hours into the evening. The stamina he developed from strenuous farm work in his youth revealed itself in his extraordinary productivity as a photographer and artist.

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This monthly email newsletter from Wisconsin Historical Images features gallery exhibits from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s visual materials collections.
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Link to Society's website at wisconsinhistory.org

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