Sumner W. Matteson lived from 1867 to 1920. During his last year at the University of Minnesota, Kodak roll film was introduced. In 1895, Matteson became the Saint Paul agent for the Overman Wheel Company, where they sold bicycles. Upon his move to Colorado he merged these two interests and used his bicycle to travel and take pictures. In 1899 Sumner started a new career as a traveling correspondent.
From 1898 to 1908 Matteson traveled all over North America taking pictures of people working and living. His images were some of the earliest photographs of people living in the American West. He then ventured to Cuba and spent four months traveling around and taking pictures. After that he spent some time in Montana, the Pacific Northwest coast, into Vancouver, and then finally settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He traveled some after this on and off until his death in the fall of 1920.
The Science Museum of Minnesota has 800 of Sumner Matteson prints in our accessioned collections and a very small few are noted below to give you an idea of his work. All of the information under each picture is from handwritten notes by Sumner Matteson to describe the image.