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Moment of Indiana History

Martin’s Photo Shop

From a small studio at 7th and Wabash in Terre Haute, The Martin family documented almost a century of history with their photographs. Founded in 1906, Martin’s Photo Shop was a family enterprise that would remain in business for 70 years, recording every major event, celebration, and catastrophe that shaped the life of their Hoosier neighbors.

The studio was started by Frank Martin, and eventually all seven of his children would play a role in the family enterprise. After his death in 1933, his sons Willard and Kenneth took over the studio. Willard specialized in portraits while Kenneth handled the news photography and commercial aspects of the business.

Occasionally, the Martin family knew their subjects too well. Kenneth photographed a Salvation Army bread line in Terre Haute at the beginning of the great depression, documenting the devastating human effect of the crash of 1929. When asked why he only showed peoples’ backs in the photo, he responded: “How could I show their faces? These were my neighbors and friends.”

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