MsC 150.13

Collection Dates: (1952-1958)
(Bulk Dates: 1952-1958)
3 linear ft.

Collection Guide

This document describes a Manuscript Collection held by the

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries

Julian Gromer

Guide Contents

Administrative Information

Biographical and Historical Information

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Related Materials

Acquisition and Processing Information

Box Contents List

Administrative Information

Access and Restrictions: The collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"  Copyright to the films has been transferred to the University of Iowa Libraries.

Use of Collections:  The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Biographical Note

Julian Gromer was born September 19, 1907 in Elgin, Illinois. He worked as a printer after graduation from High School.  One of his main hobbies was speed boat racing.  He raced in both the runabout and hydroplane classes in the Midwest, and collected a number of trophies for his racing achievements.  He became fascinated with photography and this eventually grew into his vocation for the next four decades. He produced 20 travelogues during his career.


In August, 1941 he married Gertrude Radatz and for their honeymoon went on a steamship cruise to Hawaii and produced a travelogue. Since Pearl Harbor was bombed in December, 1941, this became a very popular travelogue.  When Julian was drafted to serve in the Army Signal Corps as a photographer for World War II, Gertrude continued the travelogue presentations. After completing military service, Julian began producing and presenting travelogues again.


Besides narrating the travelogues, he used his own dual turntable for playing records.  So in addition to narration, he also was busy changing records to further enhance the enjoyment of travelogues for the audience.  He presented over 200 travelogues per year for many years. He was represented by the Redpath Booking Agency of Chicago in the 1940’s and 1950’s.


Many of his films utilized boats because of his interest in boat racing.  When he produced a travelogue in the 1950’s on the Grand Canyon, he was about the 300th person since John Wesley Powell to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  Gromer also developed a time lapse photography machine to record the blossoming of flowers.


He always produced his travelogues using original film (cutting and splicing together original film into the finished product).  In 1959 he and two other partners purchased a travelogue booking agency from Ralph Windoes of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Gromer moved to Grand Rapids and remained active in the business by presenting travelogues and working with aspiring artists to assist them in producing their own travelogues.


He presented his work all over the United States and Canada.  He showed travelogues for service clubs, universities and the National Geographic Society.  In 1975 he presented his travelogue “Mountain Safari” (a bicycle journey from Mexico to Canada) to 16,500 patrons in Grand Rapids in four shows over three days.


He retired from presenting travelogues in the 1970’s and eventually sold his share of Windoes Travelogues to his two sons.  He passed away on December 4, 1986 in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the age of 79.  Julian Gromer was a perfectionist when it came to producing travelogues.  He never wanted to show anything that wasn’t his best possible effort.  He was also keenly interested in helping other producers and travelogue sponsors make travelogues something enjoyable to audiences across North America.

Gromer was considered one of the top three travelogue film artists during most of his career, and he received several awards recognizing that. He unselfishly shared with many other artists the advanced techniques of his trade. He frequently held "artist conferences" at his home where there would be sharing of methods and techniques to improve the quality of the films, sound selection, editing techniques, and tips on improving the "live lecture" that accompanied each showing. As a small boy I (Gary) remember viewing many of the different films that artists would preview in Dad's basement home theaters. His home theaters were advanced well beyond the current time and included stereo sound systems and projection systems that sent the film images to full professional screens framed with curtains that automatically powered open for each showing!

A truly unique entrepreneur.

Written by John and Gary Gromer


Scope and Contents

Photographs: Still images on CD

Film/Video: 3 16mm color films on six reels; each film has been transcribed to DVCAM and then to DVD; DVCAM is an editable digital format.

Audio Material: The films do not have sound tracks.

Related Materials

For three brochures describing Gromer's performance, see "Traveling Culture."

Acquisition and Processing Information

These films were given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Gromer's sons, Gary and John Gromer, in December 2005. Copyright to the films was also donated to the University.

Guide posted to Internet July 2006.


Contents List

Film 1: Atlantic Coast Wonderland (1952, 2800 ft, 78 min) The Intra-coastal Waterway cruise gets underway at New York City. Gaiety at Atlantic city.. up the Delaware Bay.. making glassware and packing frozen foods.. trademarks of Baltimore.. playing lacrosse at Annapolis.. sightseeing in Washington, D.C... crabbing in Chesapeake Bay.. colonial Williamsburg.. Sand Festival at Virginia Beach.. proving grounds at Kitty Hawk.. making nylon gowns.. Charleston, city of ironwork.. basket weavers.. buggy ride at St. Augustine.. new tricks at Marineland.. Miami, the magic city.. the fighting tarpon and dolphin.. catching a 600 pound porpoise by hand.. plenty of shrimp at Key West.. cruising 80 miles into the ocean to the Tortugas to see Ft. Jefferson, nesting terns and Magic Island.

Film 2: Jewels of the Pacific (1953, 2900ft) Action begins in Los Angeles: Disneyland, Miss Universe parade, etc.,. Carmel-by-the sea with its shops and flowers.. glass bottom gondolas;. towering redwoods.. San Francisco with everything.. Rogue River mailman.. sea lions at play..Salmon Derby.. Mt. St. Helens guarding Spirit Lake.. Mt. Rainier, a jewel in a setting of wildflowers_. boating thrills at Seattle. Reel two is the story of a Cheechako (tenderfoot) making a movie in the wilds of Alaska. He learns the hard way, makes mistakes and provides many hilarious moments. The guide takes him amid snowcapped mountains, glaciers, glistening icebergs, spouting whales, hungry brown bears, trout streams and spawning salmon. Audiences thrill as totem poles come to life and chase the Cheechako in a weird nightmare.

Film 3: Idaho Adventure (1958,/ /2400 ft, 67 min) The action-packed film starts with three-dimensional views of the Grand Tetons, the source of the Snake River. Potential "space travelers" get a preview at Craters of the Moon. Sun Valley has many pleasant surprises with facilities for 20 different sports. After seeing Balanced Rock and the Petroglyphs, there are spectacular scenes of Thousand Springs lacing the walls of lava. The Hagerman parade gets the rodeo off in high gear. Excitement and adventure begin as thirty-four passengers board rubber boats and run the dangerous rapids of the Salmon, known as the "River of No Return," and the twisting Snake River through Hells Canyon, the deepest in America. Idaho is sheep country where the beautiful 23rd Psalm becomes even more inspirational.

Julian Gromer with opening flower

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