Thelma Blumberg was born November 23, 1920, in St. Louis. She learned about cameras and photographic equipment while serving in the U.S. Navy Women’s Reserve during World War II. Following her three years of service, Blumberg studied the art of photography at the Chicago Institute of Design on the G.I. Bill. She also studied photography at the Art Center in Los Angeles, where she met and took instruction from the likes of Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott and Dorothea Lange.
Blumberg created a large volume of photographs during her work as a free-lance photo journalist in the late-1950s and 1960s in what would become known as Gaslight Square. Her photographs documented the neighborhood as it changed from a quiet antique row into one of the country’s most popular entertainment districts. In the 1960s, her journalistic photography often appeared in the Sunday Magazine section of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, in St. Louis Scene Magazine, and in St. Louis Magazine. She also served as the house photographer for Gaslight Square’s own play house, the Gateway Theatre.
In 1991, the Western Historical Manuscript Collection-St. Louis purchased more than 5,000 of Blumberg’s photographs. Her Gaslight Square and other photojournalistic subjects can be viewed as part of the collection at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Due to severely debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, she was forced to give up her camera in her early 60s, however she continued to control her work, primarily through UMSL, until her death on May 2, 2012, at the age of 91.