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Gilman Lane Photograph Collection-Oak Park Public Library

Identifier: 2017-004

Scope and Contents

Over 700 hundred photographs taken by Gilman Lane during his lifetime. Includes photographic prints and negatives as well as a detailed inventory. A majority consisted of photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s works in and around the Oak Park area. Lane created an inventory list for all of the photos he had taken, stemming from his desire to make his collection available to the public. Lane organized his inventory list by arranging the location of the photos geographically, and the subdividing them by the name of the homeowner. In addition the number of photographs for each house was listed alphabetically, along with letters after each photo number to indicate the different of views of the building. This original inventory list was included in the donation of his photographs by his wife Anna Lane after Gilman Lane’s death in 1961. The inventory has been subsequently added to by various Oak Park Public Library staff.


  • 1930s-1940s

Biographical / Historical

Gilman Lane was an industrial arts teacher who taught in his birthplace of Kalamazoo, Michigan and later at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois. In addition to teaching, Lane had an avid interest in photography, taking photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright built homes in Oak Park, that comprise the collection. Gilman Lane was born in Kalamazoo in 1892. He studied Manual Training at Western University and graduated in 1911. After college, Lane taught Manual Training courses at Kalamazoo Public Schools. He married Anna Maude (Bender) Lane in 1919. In the summer of 1922, Lane went back to Western University to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree. While working toward his degree, Lane also served as part of the Western University faculty, teaching Mechanical Drawing. Lane earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in December 1922. Anna and Gilman Lane were active supporers of Western Univerisity, attending various alumni banquets and events. In 1923, Anna and Gilman Lane moved to Oak Park, residing on Ridgeland Avenue. Lane worked as an industrial arts teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School. He helped found and served as an advisor for the high school’s camera club, and also took pictures for “Tabula” yearbook. He was also one of the founders and original members of the Oak Park Camera Club, which started in 1935. During his years in Oak Park, Lane took photos of Frank Lloyd Wright homes around the Oak Park area, which formed an extensive collection of photographs. Lane retired from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1957; he died in 1961. In that same year, Anna donated the photos of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes to the Oak Park Public Library. Anna Maude Lane died in 1968.


5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Gilman Lane Photograph Collection consists of more than 700 photographs of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and others in Oak Park, River Forest, and other areas of the United States and beyond, representing over 150 buildings. Lane took and collected photographs over four decades and was both a founder and original member of the Oak Park Camera Club. He also taught industrial arts at Oak Park River Forest High School from 1923-1957. The photographs were given to the Oak Park Public Library after Lane's death in 1961 by his widow Anna.


Images are described at the item level. Within the finding aid, the collection is arranged alphabetically either by home owner’s last name or name of the building, as appropriate. Building names reflect the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust naming conventions. Numbers in brackets indicate unique identifiers provided by Lane. Storrer numbers are represented as "S." Dates provided are building completion dates rather than date of creation of images.

In 1977 the Oak Park Public Library staff checked Lane’s inventory list for any discrepancies against the library’s own photographic holdings, while performing research on the photos. The staff used the first edition of William Storrer’s book The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright to serve as an authority to properly identify the buildings in Lane’s photos, while also serving to correct the spelling of the home owners and locality. All of these changes were used in revising and restructuring Lane’s original inventory, which also included a correlation between the photographic prints and negatives. The 1977 Revised inventory list arranged the photos alphabetically on the name of the original home owner. In addition the library added in separate columns for the collection number in the Gilman Lane Collection; number of negatives; number of prints; and a remarks section of the differences between the revised listing and Gilman Lane’s original list.

In 2006 the collection was digitized. New research was done on the photos using the third edition of Storrer’s book. In addition, staff identified photographs that had been misattributed to different photographers or architects. The inventory list was updated to reflect the new information.


The photographs, prints, negatives and typed documents were donated by his wife Anna Maude (Bender) Lane in 1961 to the Oak Park Public Library after Lane’s death. In addition, Lane created an inventory of the photos he took, which was included with the collection. Lane’s original inventory was revised by the librarians in 1977 and later in 2006 to note which photos were and were not built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Metadata included in the finding aid was taken from these inventories. The collection was digitized in the early 2000s by library staff and is available via MDID:


1940 U.S. Census Record; “Camera Club to Mark Birthday,” by Erin Bach, Chicago Tribune May 19, 1960; “Gilman Lane Dies; Industrial Arts Teacher After 34 years,” Oak Leaves May 11, 1961 pg. 66; “Mrs. Gilman Lane, widow of one-time high school teacher dies,” Oak Leaves September 4, 1968 pg. 56; Western State University, Kalamazoo 1911 Yearbook; Western State University, Kalamazoo 1922 Yearbook; Western Herald June 30, 1920; Western Herald November 18, 1936; Western Herald June 13, 1923; Western Herald December 13, 1922; Western Herald December 6, 1922; Western Herald July 12, 1922; Western Herald June 20, 1922; Western Herald June 22, 1920; Western Herald October 22, 1919; Western Herald February 5, 1919; Western Herald July 11, 1917.

Processing Information

When the items were received in 1961, many of the negatives and prints were either contained in their original envelopes or placed in library envelopes. These envelopes have housed in acid free boxes and folders.

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Repository Details

Part of the Oak Park Public Library Special Collections Repository

834 Lake Street
Oak Park IL 60301 USA