Archive 5 - January - March 2001
KODAK GIRL by Peter Palmquist
CAMERA FIENDS AND KODAK GIRLS IN SOUTHERN OREGON 1850-1950
Camera Craft, vol. 5, no. 4 (August 1902): 158. Los Angeles Camera Club News, January 1903: 9. "Woman was Houston’s First Photographer…", Houston [Texas] Chronicle, July 16, 1939. Mrs. Davis’s advertisement appeared in the Houston Morning Star on December 12, 1843. Mrs. Julia Shannon advertised herself as both a daguerreian artist and midwife. Shannon’s earliest notice was published as: "Daguerreotypes taken by a Lady," in the San Francisco Alta California on January 29, 1850. Likewise, in 1841 a Mrs. Fletcher advertised herself as a "Professor and Teacher of the Photogenic Art" in Montreal, Canada. In Minnesota, Sarah L. Judd started her photography career in 1848. Numerous other examples exist. Occupational statistics compiled in 1910 list 26,811 male photographers and 4,964 female photographers active in the United States. Since federal documents are typically underreported, these figures are probably much higher than stated. See, Thomas Robinson, Oregon Photographers; Biographical History and Directory 1852-1917, [2nd edition] (Portland: published by the author. 1993); hereafter cited as "Robinson." Likewise, William Alley, compiler, A Century of the Photographic Arts in Southern Oregon (Medford: Southern Oregon Historical Society, 2000); hereafter cited as "Century." This information has been supplemented by the files of the Women in Photography International Archive, Arcata, California; hereafter cited as "WIP Archive." The earliest known woman photographer to work along the Oregon/California border was Miss A. M. Tidd, active in Yreka, Siskiyou County, California, in 1864. She advertised in the Yreka Journal beginning on January 20, 1864 and continuing through June: "Ambrotypes $1.00 and Photographs, per half dozen $3.50." At least seven other women were located in Yreka between 1900 and 1930. Modoc County and Del Norte County (both in California) also supported female photographers at an early time. "Robinson": 356-7, 435, 647; and "Century": 4, 7, 9, 14. Mrs. Tyler is thought to have learned photography while visiting relatives in Wisconsin. It should be noted, however, that Mrs. Tyler may not have been the first female photographer in Ashland. In 1884 Charles W. Logan (and wife) established an Ashland gallery that lasted until 1891. Mrs. Logan, however, is not specifically identified as a photographer in regional business directories until 1891. Portrait photographs, taken by Mrs. Tyler, are found in many collection including the WIP Archive. Other documented Ashland photographers were Margaret E. Herrin, who took over the Larson Studio in June 1897, but who by August 1898 had relocated to Portland, and the husband and wife team of Frank & Martha Canifro, active about 1900. "Robinson": 182, 441, 496; and "Century": 9, 11. Sadly, with the exception of annual occupational listings, very little biographical information exists for these women. Mrs. Lyon may actually be spelled Lyons. Mrs. Smythe advertised that she would make photos on "either the dull or glaze finish paper as desired" (Rogue River Courier, July 3, 1902). Further afield, there were other small towns that served as crossroads for Oregon’s regional commerce, and therefore ideal locations for women photographers, among them: Mrytle Creek (Mrs. Hutchinson & Son, 1891); Lakeview (Mrs. Cornelia A. Knox, c.1900-1905), also (Cora M. Finley, who also advertised "Indian Pictures and Indian Goods for sale" beginning in 1907); Oakland (the Quant Sisters, Blanche and Dora, from about 1905-1910). The WIP Archive has one cabinet-style portrait taken by Mrs. I. M. Nichols and four by Mrs. Cornelia A. Knox. Walter Sprange, The Blue Book For Amateur Photographers (Beach Bluff, MA: published by the author, 1895): 296-297. See, Harry J. Drew, Maud Baldwin—Photographer [Kamath County Museum Research Paper, Number 10] (Klamath Falls: Klamath County Museum., 1980). "Art at Baldwin Studio," Klamath Republican, July 3, 1905. At this time, Baldwin was apparently joined by Miss Clarice E. White who was listed as a portrait artist who had recently finished "a course at one of the Eastern Schools." It is not clear if Miss White was also a photographer. The Klamath News, May 23, 1926. An extensive collection of Baldwin’s photographs is held by the Klamath County Museum, Klamath Falls, Oregon. "Century": 4, 13. See "Robinson": 48, 182, 277-8, 480. Details of Fitzgerald’s California years are found in Peter E. Palmquist, Shadowcatchers II: A Directory of Women in California Photography 1900-1920 (Eureka, CA: published by the author, 1991). Mrs. Clevenger is listed as a member of the Photographers Association of the Pacific Northwest, according to the program of their 1907 convention. Clemens was most likely the wife of druggist Michael Clemens, and most likely conducted a photo-finishing operation in connection with the drugstore. Barrows may have been the wife of S. D. Barrows who did bicycle repair. "Robinson": 429, 651, 681; and "Century": 1, 8, 9, 15, 16. Mrs. Lesmeister (1882-1969) filed for divorce in 1911. She later operated studios in Monterey, Crescent City and Dunsmuir, all in California. About 1920 she active in Chico, California. Sisters Annie (d. 1957) and Pheba Vinson (1877-1960) came to southern Oregon with their parents in 1903. Pheba married Stanley Vaughn in 1913 and lived with him on their orchard in the Table Rock District. Mrs. T. M. Barnard was also established in Central Point but the date of her activity has not been established. "Century": 12, 13. Lorane was Albert Peasley’s second wife. Before coming to Medford, Peasley and his first wife, Alda, operated a studio in Portland. Alda remained in Portland. Miss Juenesse Butler was a brief partner in the Shangle-Butler Studio in Medford about 1927. "Century": 11-12. Medford Mail Tribune January 1, 1928; Personal interview, Mrs. Esther Hobbs by Robert Wright, March 2, 1985. Esther was born in Ashland on December 9, 1907 and died September 7, 1991, also in Ashland. See, "Century." 8. In 1931, at the time of its opening, the Kennell-Ellis studio offered a system of coupon credits for photographs. Other local studios were outraged and asked the city council to impose a stiff fee on coupon photographers. The ordinance was passed but later rescinded. Little is known about Gaylord. Nor is it clear how or if Ruth Leclerc is related to Blanche Leclerc. In 1935, Maybelle A. Jones was listed in a local directory as a "photofinisher" in the Bushnell-Perkins Studio in Ashland. "Century": 8. The Focus (July-August, 1942): 3. This article indicates that she was unmarried. "Century": 3, 15. The Vincents were enumerated in local directories for 1942, but it is likely that they continued for a longer period of time. The Bruno Studio was in business for a short time in 1940-1941. The offered "Bruno’s Exclusive Hollywood Glamour Service," with Mrs. Glee Bruno as saleswoman. "Century": 5, 7, 10. Mrs. Conrad was the widow of John T. and Mrs. Alger was the wife of a local land surveyor. The Foreman Studio was at 32 North Central Ave., Medford. The Hughes lived in an apartment above the studio. Dwaine Smith served as the staff photographer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for many years. In 1956 (and probably longer), Mrs. Nora Jenks was listed in a local directory as "photo developing & printing" at 714 Dakota Avenue, Medford. She also did photographic retouching. My recent study of the female photographers working between 1850 and 2000 in rural Humboldt County, California, uncovered information about more than 750 women involved in some aspect of the photographic arena. A recent exhibit was mounted and a sixty-page catalogue prepared under the title: Behind the Redwood Curtain: Women Photographers of Humboldt County 1850-2000 (Arcata, CA: Women in Photography International Archive, 1999). Nearly thirty years of research went into this study. Since Humboldt County, California, is not geographically or demographically dissimilar to the Ashland/ Medford area, it is therefor not at all unreasonable to expect that a similar number of women were involved in photography in that region through the year 2000.
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