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Michael P. Harker photographs

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0661

Scope and Content

The collection contains master prints of the seventy-six photographs used in the book Harker’s Barns: Visions of an American Icon (Special Collections TR659 H373 2003). These photographs were taken in various locations in Iowa between 1993 and 2001. The black and white master prints are silver gelatin photographic prints, each measuring 11"x14". Supplementary items include Harker’s resume, a sequential listing of photographs from the book, and a color photograph (8.5"x12") of Harker.


  • Creation: 1993-2001, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

To order reproductions for personal or other use, patrons will need to contact Michael Harker directly. Consult Special Collections and University Archives staff for more information.


Michael P. Harker was born April 3, 1950, in Moline, Illinois. His photographic career began in 1971 while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. There he learned darkroom techniques from Hans Jurgen-Heider, a German professional photographer. Several of Harker’s early photographs were published in U.S. Army newspapers.

Harker received an A.S. (1973) in arts and biology from Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois. His B.S. (1976) in professional photography was earned at Southern Illinois University. He also studied administrative management at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1989.

In 1976, he began his professional photography career doing custom photo lab work. He has worked as a freelance commercial photographer and as an in-house photographer for companies in Illinois and Iowa, including Deere and Company (Moline, Illinois) and Rockwell Collins Avionics and Communications Division (now Rockwell Collins, Inc., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa). In 1997, he began his current job as an ophthalmic photographer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Harker has been a fine arts photographer since 1973. In 1993 he began a series of photographs of barns in Iowa. In the course of researching this subject he discovered that close to a thousand Iowa barns were being destroyed each year due to various causes, and he decided to embark on a serious documentary of the barns. In addition to photographing as many barns as possible, he has given lectures and has mounted exhibits of his photographs. One exhibit was purchased by Humanities Iowa to serve as a permanent traveling exhibit; this exhibit was also shown in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit "Barn Again!" at locations in Iowa. In 2003, University of Iowa Press published Harker’s Barns: Visions of an American Icon, highlighting a selection of his art photographs and including text by poet Jim Heynen.

Harker married Theresa A. Schafer-Harker in 1986. They have one daughter. Michael Harker lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


1.67 Linear Feet (1 oversize box)


The photographs are organized in the sequence used in the book. The supplementary material is filed before the photographs.


Digital reproductions of a selection of materials from the Michael P. Harker photographs are available electronically. Please see the Electronic Resources section for a link.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0661. Michael P. Harker photographs, 1993-2001, undated
In Progress
February 26, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672