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Dale and Marius Rooks Studio collection

Identifier: Collection 230

Scope and Contents

This collection contains negatives and prints from the Rooks Studio. Included in the collection are negatives that predate the Rooks Studio and are from when Dale worked for the Muskegon Chronicle. One of the strengths of the collection is its negatives on furniture. There are primarily negatives on Western Michigan furniture makers and designers and the furniture markets where they would showcase their product. RobsJohns Gibbens is included, although the negatives seem to be editorial images with very few furniture shots. Widdicomb Furniture Company is also included in the collection (it is not clear as to if it is John Widdicomb Furniture Company or Widdicomb Furniture Company). Also included in the collection are negatives and prints of furniture taken for national magazines and newspapers. The collection features negatives and prints from Grand Rapids area businesses and negatives and prints of people from the area as well. Dale Rooks and his wife Sally photographed live animals for two children's books and those negatives are not included in the collection.

The creator's number is in parentheses following the item description.


  • circa 1947-1963


Biographical / Historical

Rhinedale (Dale) Rooks was born in 1917 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and died in 1954 in Grand Rapids, Michigan of cancer. Dale's father was Albertus Rooks, former Calvin College Principal (1900-1918) and Dean of the College (1918-1942). His mother was Grace (Oostining) Rooks. Dale Rooks had two brothers: Marius Rooks, who would work with Dale in his Grand Rapids photography company, and Corbyn (Corbijn) Rooks.

Dale graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School and went to Calvin College. While at Calvin College, Dale worked for the Calvin College annual Prism. After graduation in 1938 Dale worked as a news photographer for the Muskegon Chronicle. Dale then moved to Milwaukee to photograph for the Milwaukee Journal. In 1940 Dale moved to Kent, OH to teach at Kent University in the Journalism department. Two years later, in 1942, Dale moved to New York City to work for the newspaper PM as a feature photographer. In 1944 Dale joined the US Coast Guard and for two years was a combat photographer in the Mediterranean area. After working with the Coast Guard Dale then was a roving staff photographer for LOOK magazine.

In 1947 Dale Rooks moved back to Grand Rapids to start his own business and to be a freelance photographer. Dale married Sally Rooks and had three children: Jan, Daryll and Dalene. Dale authored the book “Everybody's Photo Course” and photographed for “Three Little Bunnies” and “Three Little Puppies” both written by Ruth Dixon and published by Rand McNally as Famous Elf Books in 1950 and 1951, respectively.

Dale's photographs were featured in magazines such as: Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, House & Garden, House Beautiful, LIFE, U.S. Camera, Fortune, Science Illustrated, Flying and the newspaper The New York Times. Dale Rooks is most famous for his furniture photography and his special effects photography. Most of the photographs that were sent to major magazines of the Grand Rapids Furniture Markets were taken by Dale Rooks.


13.8 Linear Feet (Twenty boxes)

Language of Materials



Dale Rooks (1917-1954) was a photographer and journalist from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He worked for national publications and as a combat photographer in the US Coast Guard before returning to Grand Rapids to start his own business, Rooks Studio. This collection includes primarily original negatives created by Rooks and sometimes by his brother, Marius Rooks, or others who worked for the company. The clients of Rooks Studio included local furniture companies and other businesses. The collection is particularly strong in furniture photographs. Dale Rooks' work was featured in magazines such as: Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, House & Garden, House Beautiful, LIFE, U.S. Camera, Fortune, Science Illustrated, Flying and the newspaper The New York Times.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Marius Rooks, accession number 1992.013

Related Materials

Coll. 231, Marius Rooks Old City Hall Images, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Finding aid for the Dale and Marius Rooks Studio collection
Barbara Timmerman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA