James Blair Murdoch was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in January 20, 1896. He came to Milwaukee in the early 1920s and worked as a newspaper photographer. Several years later he opened a commercial photo studio on Broadway Street in downtown Milwaukee. Many of the images in the collection are related to area businesses, such as advertising and insurance agencies, department stores, manufacturing industries, and service stations. Particularly numerous are photographs pertaining to Boston Store, Holland Furnace Company, Standard Oil Company, Wadhams Oil Company, and the Wisconsin Telephone Company. Images in the collection document business presentations, offices and employees, building exteriors, store interiors and sale-day crowds, fashion modeling and style shows, parties, gas stations, manufacturing and the production process, including many of women at work. The collection also contains images relating to Marquette University, Milwaukee-Downer College, Mount Mary College, and Spencerian Business College, as well as photographs from several local grade schools. Photographs document school activities, sports, student groups, and graduation.