Bertha Maude Horack Shambaugh was born in 1871 to Czech immigrants Frank and Katherine Horack. Her family moved to Iowa City in 1880, when she was nine years old. She became a very accomplished photographer at the young age of 17 after receiving her first camera. Her ability to execute large-format photography on dry plates combined with her keen appreciation of aesthetics made her a unique photographer. Taking place primarily between 1890 and 1891, her most famous photographs document life in the Amana Colonies.
Bertha married Benjamin Shambaugh in 1897, the first superintendent of the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) and an early champion of local history. After she got married, she didn’t use her camera much, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have a hand in the photos of her home taken. She played an important role at SHSI in her later life, editing manuscripts, designing book covers, and collecting manuscripts and objects for society.
Below are some stunning historical by Bertha Shambaugh photos from The State Historical Society of Iowa that show the exterior and interior of her house at 219 N Clinton Street, Iowa City, in the late 19th and early 20th Century.