We have several stereoscopes in our collection. This one was donated by the daughters of Ruth Simonson Barsness.
Stereoscopes are used to view stereographs and produce a three dimensional image. They were popular in the late 1800’s through the 1930’s.
They provided an inexpensive way to travel and see the world from the comfort of your parlor. The three dimensional image and accompanying text on the back was the next best thing to actually being there.
Stereographs in our collection include large sets of images from Norway, Palestine, Yellowstone National Park, and San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906. There are also pictures from around the world, cute pictures of children, and some humorous sets that tell a story.
Once motion pictures and their accompanying newsreels were readily available, the popularity of stereoscopes faded.
The same 3D technology can be seen today in the popular children’s toy “Viewmaster.” The images appear three dimensional beacuse each eye sees a slightly different image. The images are captured by a camera with two lenses set about 2.5 inches apart – just like our eyes.