The people, places, and things that captured the imagination of a Midwestern original
Donald James Angus (1887-1966), born in Wisconsin, was a self-educated electrical engineer specializing in measuring and recording devices. He was co-owner of Esterline-Angus Co. of Indianapolis, and was an amateur radio enthusiast and photographer.
D. J. Angus was especially interested in photographing man-made engineering feats, and recorded dams, mills, bridges, and Mt. Rushmore under construction. He was drawn to the culture and architecture of ancient civilizations and traveled to the Southwest for cliff-dwellings and Aztec ruins, and to Mexico for pre-Columbian pyramids. Angus traveled at a time when the National Parks were being established and before restrictions were placed on access by visitors. He photographed natural phenomena — geysers, lava fields, canyons, and craters and natural disasters. His documentation of the aftermath of floods, shipwrecks, tornadoes and cyclones throughout the mid-West captured his adventurous spirit as well as these one-time events. His images provide a visual chronicle of technological changes at a time when the country was undergoing rapid modernization and provide a lasting record of the country during the late 1920s – mid 1930s.
D. J. Angus grew up in Wisconsin, and lived most of his life in Indiana and Michigan. He had an understanding and an eye for the Midwest and the lives of Midwesterners. His family and friends were willing subjects of some of his most interesting photos.
Angus was often on site recording the latest disasters, from cyclones to shipwrecks.
Personal Interests and Travel
Angus was a founder of the Indianapolis Radio Club in 1914 and a licensed ham radio operator. He helped design the first portable radio sending and receiving units for the Indiana State Police.
D. J. Angus spent many summer camping trips exploring the American Southwest. Traveling during the 1930s, gave him unprecedented access to the National Parks and wilderness areas not available to visitors today.
The country was rapidly changing to accommodate Westward expansion, and National Parks protected the country’s natural wonders for the enjoyment of future generations. Angus traveled west in 1934 when George Washington’s face was dedicated at Mt. Rushmore and the Hoover Dam was under construction.
In all, D.J. Angus traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The collection was donated to Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives by Charles Angus in 1986.