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2003


Peter E. Palmquist photograph: Mary K. Brown, 1991



A Pictorial of the Peter Palmquist Tribute April 12, 2003


Peter Palmquist
photo: Nancy Clendaniel/Renton, WA, October 1997

Sweat Shirt reads: I Have Always Imagined That Paradise Will Be A Kind Of Library
..Jorge Luis Borges

Peter is holding a box with a Women in Photography International Expo poster - special Royal Photographic Society edition, circa 1991, Bath, UK.Poster, photographed and created by WIP Member and WIPI Expo participant - Val Valandans

Peter also received original 1981-97 WIPI's history records donated by WIPI, which are now included in the Yale University Beineche Library.

2003 - A second contribution of WIPI files from 1997 thru late spring 2003 were sent to the Palmquist facility in Arcata and included in the transfer of the Palmquist archive to the Yale University Beineche Library.Library which occurred August 2003. The shipment also included the original 2001 original Tea Time entry slide submissions, files, books, letter, notes, etc, website info, etc.


Peter Palmquist 1936-2003 

Peter Palmquist's Memorial Tribute   
held on Saturday, April 12, 2003,

The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund Historical Photographic Research   

Memorial Tributes   

www.CarlMautz.com tribute

Carol Glauber letter 1/15/03

Letter from Jean Ferro to WIPI Members  1/30/03

Palmquist articles contributed to
WomenInPhotography.org 1999-2002


IN TRIBUTE: PETER PALMQUIST, 1936-2003

By Susan Ehrens
Published in Black & White Magazine, April 2003

Suzanna A. Urminska , WIPI Archive Assoc. Curator - Essay

A Pictorial of the Peter Palmquist Tribute April 12, 2003

for articles or information currently on our website related to Peter, please search

Posted 1-15-03

Peter Palmquist Peter Eric Palmquist, (September 23, 1936 - January 13, 2003) author, historian and founder of the Women In Photography International Archive, died January 13, 2003, in Oakland, California at the age of 66


Peter Eric Palmquist Peter Eric Palmquist died January 13, 2003, in Oakland, California at the age of 66. While out walking his dog, Max, in Emeryville, he suffered a severe head injury after a speeding car struck him in a crosswalk on January 11. He never regained consciousness and died surrounded by his family.

Born in Oakland on September 23, 1936, Peter and his parents moved to Ferndale in the fall of 1944. He attended Williams Creek School, a one-room schoolhouse where total enrollment was eight students, and graduated from Ferndale Union High School in 1954, along with 26 classmates. As a teenager he hiked the surrounding hills and, with two friends, climbed to the top of Mt. Shasta. He was an avid tennis player, learned fly-tying for trout fishing adventures, and explored the tactile mysteries of amateur woodworking. He drove the racetrack water truck for the Humboldt County Fair and as a Boy Scout, he earned many merit badges and was designated a, Life Scout. As an adult, he was known for his quiet demeanor and great sense of humor, and especially, for his outrageous puns.

Peter was a professional photographer for more than 50 years. He enlisted in the United States Army where he worked for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). Stationed in Paris, he photographed many heads of state as well as famous stars of stage and screen. In 1957, while overseas, he married Sally Forward, of London, England. After his enlistment ended in 1960, they returned to California with their young family.

Peter graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.A. in Art while serving as the university photographer. He retired in 1989 after 28 years in that position. He had also supplemented his income during that time by photographing over 750 weddings in Humboldt County, and doing other commercial photography.

In 1971, Peter stopped by an antique store in McKinleyville, where the owner asked him what he collected. His response? "Nothing." She asked him what he did for a living. When he explained he was a photographer, she gave him "a fist full" of old photographs, taken by local photographers completely unknown to him. The rest is history.

That fistful of photographs blossomed into a passion and an obsession. At his death, he had amassed more than 150,000 images, including scores of rare images from the earliest days of western American photography and some 50,000 photographs documenting more than 100 years of history in Humboldt County, California. With tremendous enthusiasm, he recently transferred his extensive collection of images and research materials to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

For thirty years, Peter was an independent historian of photography. His principal interests were the American West, California before 1950, and the international history of women in photography. He liked to say that his most recent project, in collaboration with Suzanna Urminska, was an intergalactic study of women photographers before 1871. He curated scores of exhibitions and delivered hundreds of lectures on these subjects, and also served as a consultant and researcher on such projects as Ken Burns's television documentary, "The West." He was the founding editor of the "Daguerreian Annual," past president of the National Stereoscopic Association, and founder and curator of the Women in Photography International Archive. Peter consulted for countless museums and libraries including the Getty Museum, The Huntington Library, the Amon Carter Museum, and the Bancroft Library, and was respected throughout the photographic community as a generous and collaborative historian.

A resourceful and indefatigable writer, Peter published over 60 books and monographs and 340 articles. He wrote and lectured extensively on California photographer Carleton E. Watkins. In 2001, he and Thomas R. Kailbourn won the Denver Public Library's prestigious Caroline Bancroft Western History Prize for their book, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865 (Stanford University Press, 2000). At the time of his passing, Peter and Thomas had just completed the manuscript of the second volume of his Pioneer Photographers, a series that he hoped would eventually include all of the United States.

"For more than a quarter of a century, Peter pursued with rare passion the history of photography in the nineteenth-century West," said George Miles, Curator of Western Americana at the Beinecke Library. "The result is an extraordinarily rich collection that tells us how photography insinuated itself into every aspect of American life. I'm unaware of anyone else who lived and breathed the history of photography as Peter did. He made his collection to share with others, not to hide away. We feel privileged that we will be able to contribute to fulfilling his goal."

Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor of American Studies and History at Amherst College commented: "Like the best of friends, Peter inspired through his generosity and support; like the best of teachers he inspired through example. What Peter cast into the world, through his books and through his spoken words, will long reverberate with his friends and colleagues. He established new ways of pursuing the history of photography, and with his collections and research notes soon to be accessible at Yale, he will be speaking to and inspiring new generations of students and researchers forever."

Locally, Peter was on the Board of Directors of the Clarke Memorial Museum and the Humboldt Historical Society for many years. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the Humboldt Arts Council in 2001, and he was enjoying his involvement there tremendously.

He was an avid backpacker, and he especially enjoyed leading trips for the AFS foreign exchange students. He loved working in the garden and renovating his home. He and his brothers took great pleasure in working together on their cabin in Trinity County to prepare for gatherings for family and friends. In recent years, he and his lifetime companion, Pam Mendelsohn, traveled extensively to such places as Corsica, England, France, Italy, Malta, and throughout the United States. In June, he, Pam, and his stepdaughter Rebekah spent two weeks in Japan as the guests of their foreign exchange student, Mina Tomioka. In the past few years, Peter took up his camera again and was preparing for a retrospective of his own work in 2005. His stepdaughter, Rebekah Burgess, who chose to follow in his footsteps and is currently getting a PhD in photographic history, will curate that exhibition.

Peter took enormous pleasure in his family. He will be sorely missed by his partner of 26 years, Pam Mendelsohn. The couple had planned to marry in April, and to host a wedding celebration in July. He leaves a great void in the lives of many: daughter Alison Mary Lander and her husband Michael of Tumwater, Washington; daughter Elizabeth "Libby" Palmquist-Cochran and her partner Andy Cranfill of Freshwater, daughter Anna Louise May and her husband, Garland "Butch" of Eureka; stepdaughter Rebekah Elizabeth Burgess of Cambridge, Massachusetts; brother John Frederic Palmquist of Arcata; brother Carl Edward Palmquist and his partner Janina Shayne of Arcata; grandson Erik Michael Jonte and his wife, Lisa, of Palo Alto; granddaughter Amanda Alison Jonte of Tumwater, Washington; granddaughter Sarah Marie Barnes of Eureka; granddaughter Amy Lee Barnes and her partner, Javier Euevan of Eureka; niece, Erin Jessica Palmquist of Berkeley; former wife Sally Palmquist of Surrey, England; former son-in-law David Cochran of Eureka; and his beloved Corgi, Max, of Arcata and Emeryville.

He is survived by uncles: Gerald Ernest Evans of Fortuna; Clarence Everett Evans of Citrus Heights; Arthur Leland Evans of Rohnerville; Raymond Charles Evans of Olympia, Washington; and Vernon Leroy Evans of Windsor. His aunts include: Alice Margaret Brooks of Windsor and Frances Geraldine Willey of Blocksburg. He was preceded in death by his parents Carl Eric Palmquist and Blanche Lucille Palmquist, uncle George Wesley Evans of Rio Dell and aunt Ida Mae Petersen of Loleta.

He will also be missed by his collaborators, particularly Thomas R. Kailbourn, Martha A. Sandweiss, and Suzanna Urminska. A private funeral service is planned, with arrangements under the direction of Pauls Chapel of Arcata
(written by Pam Mendelshon)




Image tribute provided by Carl Mautz at photo l.a. 2003.

posted 1/15/03

In the coming weeks, we will pay tribute to Peter with letters and notices by his colleagues and dear friends. On a very personal note, words escape me and a disbelief surrounds me, I will miss him terribly since he was my silent partner in the growth of WIPI.org. We love you Peter and may you be at peace.

Jean Ferro, President, Women In Photography International

Picture gallery and message will be upload shortly.

While we were at photo l.a. 2003, we realized SPE Convention was March 20-23, 2003 so the original Tribute to Peter has been change to April 12

will be held on Saturday, April 12, 2003, 2:00 PM until 4:30PM
at the Morris Graves Museum, 636 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501.
More details to follow next week regarding hotels and direction

The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research

There is nothing like a walk in the redwood forest above our home in Arcata for a dose of perspective. The trees slowly prosper. When they fall, they do not fade away. Instead, they remain as sustenance, encouraging other life forms to flourish. Peter, Max, and I took almost daily walks through our community forest. There are the "favorite" fallen mighty giants, and many of them already have enormous trees rooted in and on top of them. The fallen trees are supporting lichen, mushrooms, ferns, you name it. You never quite get over viewing this exquisite manifestation of the insistent life force. There are also spots where trees once stood, now surrounded by circles of new(ish) trees.

They are enveloping what once stood so tall. In my mind/heart, Peter is now among those mighty giants. I know he would want to continue to do what he was already doing so beautifully until the day of his death: nurturing independent research.

How do we continue to honor and support Peter Palmquist's vision for historical photographic research? The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research is officially up and running at the Humboldt Area Foundation! I hope you will join me in supporting it. I am absolutely convinced Peter would have created this fund himself in a year or two, just deleting the word Memorial. Pam Mendelsohn

The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research has a double emphasis: the study of under -researched women photographers internationally (past and present) and Western American photographers before 1900. Awards will be made biannually to independent researchers based on their application/proposal.

In addition, grant recipients will be asked to provide the Palmquist Fund's advisory board with a copy of any published work that results from their grant. The Yale University Library has agreed to add that copy to its permanent collections to complement the resources of the Peter E. Palmquist  Collection of Western American and Women's Photography at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The fund will be a combination endowment and expendable one. Obviously, all contributions are fully tax-deductible. The application process, due dates, etc. will be announced shortly.

Members of the advisory board are:
Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor of American Studies and History, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Tom Kailbourn, co-author with Peter Palmquist of Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Directory, 1840-1865 , Stanford University Press, 2000 with volume two pending
Rebekah Burgess, PhD candidate in Photographic History at Boston University, American & New England Studies Program and stepdaughter of Peter Palmquist
Suzanna Urminska, Associate Curator of the Women In Photography International Archive and co-author with Peter Palmquist and Tom Kailbourn of a global bibliographical directory on women involved in photography before 1871, publication pending
Carl Palmquist, varied interests in history and brother of Peter Palmquist
Carl Mautz, publisher, Mautz Publishing, Nevada City, California
Pam Mendelsohn, Peter Palmquist's lifelong companion and founder of the Memorial Fund

The Humboldt Area Foundation, located in Bayside, California, was created in 1972. It is a community foundation that has been actively involved in creating endowments and expendable funds to serve a broad variety of interests and needs. Grants and awards can be made worldwide. The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research will join a family of over 400 funds.

Join us in spreading the word about this fund. Help to assure that Peter's vision lives on. Please make a financial donation in memory of a life that was in full swing.

Donations can be sent to: Humboldt Area Foundation, PO Box 99, Bayside, CA 95524. Checks should be made payable to the Humboldt Area Foundation and indicate Peter Palmquist Memorial Fund in the lower left corner. Any questions, please call: Alexandra Reid, Director of Donor Services at 707-442-2993, x302;

 



From Carol Glauber

Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 12:44:20 EST Subject: [PhotoHistory] Peter Palmquist

I am pleased to see so many people express the same sentiments I experienced with Peter over the years. In the late 1980's soon after arriving in Oregon, a colleague suggested I call him. What I thought would be a brief chat turned into a lengthy discussion of ways to approach various topics. I soon met Peter at a Women in Photography conference in Tucson and he warmly invited me to join him and a group for dinner.

During the years I researched my Myra Albert Wiggins book, Peter often sent thick envelopes filled with photocopies and computer printouts of relevant information. When I wanted to pay him for the copies, he always replied, "Just send whatever you want." He read my 40,000 word manuscript twice!

On numerous occasions, he asked me to contribute to his projects: his book, "Women Photographers: A Selection of Images from the Women in Photography Archive 1852-1997," an essay on Anne Brigman's book of poetry and photographs, an essay for an upcoming issue of "Journal of the West," and a collaboration on Laura Adams Armer. Some of these are complete; others are not, but I always felt honored that he thought to ask me.

The Women in Photography (womeninphotography.org) website was nurtured by Peter's energy and commitment to women photographers. He understood the need to make research and information in this field accessible to as many people as possible. His contribution to the history of women photographers and the encouragement he provided to others working in this area was exceptional.

Peter's generosity and spirit extended beyond photography to his family and community. He took groups of Japanese exchange students backpacking in the Trinity mountains and always had time to care for Pam, Rebecca, and his children. That so many of us from around the globe share such affection for one person, is indicative of a remarkable, unusual, and generous individual. Thank you Peter, for giving so much to so many.

Carole Glauber
Portland, Oregon

From the President January 30, 2003

Dear WIPI Members, Hello, I would like to take the time to express recent events here at WIPI. Just as we were preparing our exhibition for photo l.a. 2003, the sad news came on Wednesday Jan. 15th that Peter Palmquist 66, had been hit by a car on Saturday Jan. 11th, at 7pm in Emeryville, CA and died on Monday, Jan. 13th. Peter was my collaborating force behind WIPI, I spoke to him around 8am that fateful Jan. 11th morning about WIPI's progress and the upcoming photo l.a. It's taken me a moment to write because a disturbing disbelief and sadness filled my heart and soul and the merry-go-round of prep and work for photo l.a. was in progress, not allowing me to surrender to the grief and loss that gripped my moments of brief stillness.

Peter was the one who encouraged me to take the lead to help secure WIPI's place once again in history as a viable organization to support women's work. (WIP originally started in 1981, fell silent in 1991.) My tenure as President started as a one year, term, which turned into two years and now almost three. When things got tough, Peter would say..."you can do it..Jean, you're doing a great job." It has taken a concentrated amount of time and effort to lay a solid ground work. It began with building the membership, producing WIPI's 20th Anniversary exhibition and CD, a stable website with continuous expansion, online banking, membership growth, artist marketing and promotion, and several exhibitions. The result of this progress, contributed to the growth and success of WIPI's membership of women working in the photographic arts and is part of the archived materials in the Women In Photography International Archive, founded by Peter Palmquist, author, curator and historian who maintained the archive in Arcata, CA. In 2001, Peter and co-writer, Thomas R. Kailbourn won the Denver Public Library's prestigious Caroline Bancroft Western History Prize for their book, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865 (Stanford University Press, 2000).

There is a long list of complimentary notes by colleagues from around the world who wrote fondly of their relationship to Peter. These remembrances can be read at his publishers website at www.CarlMautz.com. WIPI has a special tribute page set up to honor Peter, which you can view via the Historical Profile link on our Home Page www.wipi.org. There you will find a photo of Peter in a blue sweat shirt, taken by Nancy Clendaniel (past WIPI director) from 1997, when Peter visited her in Renton, WA, to pick up the stored 1981-1992 WIPI files of newsletters, images and promotional materials . You will also find Peter's obituary notice, tribute preparations and Memorial Fund information that has been established by Peter's long time mate of 26 years Pam Mendelshon who is also a WIPI Pro member. Pam is now planning Peter's tribute which will be held in Arcata on April 12, instead of their wedding day ceremony and honeymoon trip to Portugal.

Just after grasping the full impact of Peter's departure and following a successful photo l.a., on Friday Jan. 24, I learned about another tragedy that happened in the same week, 3 days after Peter and the same day photo l.a. opened. It was the sad news that Winter Bell died, 27 years young, from a health related problem. She was found on the morning of April 16th in San Francisco by her Aunt. Winter was to begin her school year at the San Francisco Art's Institute on a full scholarship.. Winter's b/w pinhole image "Mooseskull" was the photograph that was placed on the WIPI display wall in the lobby of photo l.a. 2003. We had also made a copy of the image to have on the table in our booth during the 4 day event from Jan.16 thru Jan. 19, all this unbeknownst to us that Winter had already died. Her dear friend Jon wrote to me on Friday Jan. 24, asking me to call so he could personally tell me his tragic news.

Winter's work was cutting edge, dynamic and unhampered by society's curtain of righteousness. She was prolific and pursued her work with abandon. She was also known as one of the Los Angeles based, Fleshtone Lab's best b/w printers. (Winter's self-portrait pinhole camera image, "Mooseskull" can be seen in the Photo l.a. 2003 image section, reached through our Home Page.) A group show at the SoHo Gallery/Studio City, opening February 14, will feature Winter's self-portrait mural sized images. Her family is planning a special memorial tribute on February 16th at the Gallery.

So, it's been a very unusual time in WIPI's present history. One that created a pause and reflection in the midst of a fast moving world. Two people who never met, died within a few miles of each other, in the same week and yet had a united connection through WIPI and Photo l.a. 2003. Below is an e-mail transmission from December 17th, between Peter and myself regarding my decision to place Winter in the Lobby of photo l.a. Always concerned that what I do for WIPI is in WIPI's best interest and running things by Peter since he has archived over 27,000 women's work, and was hands on with curators and educators throughout the world, I always felt he would give me an honest and solid answer that would help move us forward.

Peter, who was grand, established, formal and at the same time informal, with his in-depth historical studies of women photographers, biographical writings and published works (Peter published over 60 books and monographs and 340 articles) ...and Winter, raw, young, passionate, prolific and similar to a Robert Maplethorpe in her delivery of the image and content, will both long be remembered, each in their own light for their contribution to Women Photographers and to the world of photographic arts.

World Peace and Warmest regards,
Jean Ferro President, Women In Photography International


Dec. 17, 2002 correspondence between Jean Ferro/Peter Palmquist regarding upcoming photo l.a. photographic display, Jan. 16 thru Jan. 19. Hopefully this e-mail exchange brings a glimpse of my relationship to Peter and his wonderful response to the support of women's work. In a message dated 12/17/02 8:11:10 AM, womeninphotointl@aol.com writes
:
Peter, The Magician, by Michelle Dugan is a "photo based computer generated image" She is the other catalog image, but set up more as an ad page with a by line of Women In Photography International, photo l.a. 2003. Lauren Gabriele's energetic "Boogie Woogie" is the WIPI gallery page image.

The rest of the approx. 30 images is variable, there are some striking b/w documentary images, new process images, an archival 1978 portrait of Harry James, my ducks-in-a-row SX70 Polaroid series, a pretty good mixture and Winter is the only really cutting edge...which I think we could use at this juncture of WIPI. Moosehead by Winter Bell is the image I'm considering for the lobby. It's a 16x20 framed in museum style light wood, matted into a 20x24 frame.

Winter is very cutting edge, young dynamic fearless, her prints generally well printed and at the Hollywood Bound show, hers were the only ones that sold and she donated all the money back into WIPI. It wasn't much, I think about $200 at the time. for these little 5x7's. A very distinguished man bought them who is a commercial Real Estate owner. I met with him.

Anyway, I just don't want to be burned at the stake...! I'm thinking to "attract" attention at photo l.a. with something's strong. Only two of our members work sold in 2002 and they were around $200. It was Ruth Bernhard and Joyce Tenneson that sold well. I'm looking for something to fuel the silent auction and bring the collectors to our booth. I think this image would do it...but what will it do to the other women and then the backlash on me...? I can take the heat, but what do you think the organization can handle? Jeanne

In a message dated 12/17/02 10:30:03 AM, writes:

<< Jean: Although the religious right will never approve....my feeling is that this is art, form in space, interesting outlooks, etc. In the Moosehead....is she giving birth to the head...i.e. is she the mother of the universe? Perhaps I am not the best judge of this, but for me, I find the image (and all three images) to be totally in keeping with what photographers would want to see....it pushes the envelope, yes, but it is not pornography. Besides, you can go by any magazine rack in America and see FAR more provocative images. I would go for it. peter.


Historical feature galleries or articles contributed by Peter


F2 eZine:  Premiere Issue, www.wipi.org November 1999 - March 2000
"Behind the Redwood Curtain: Women Photographers of Humboldt County, California 1850-2000"

Archive 2  April 2000 - June 2000
Historical Profile, California's Earliest Photographer May Have been a 12 Year Old Girl! by Peter Palmquist

Archive 3  July 2000 - August 2000

Historical Portfolio: Gisele Freund by Peter Palmquist

Archive 3   
F2 eZine: WIPI NEWS
Women In Photography Millennium Project nominees

Archive 4  September 2000 - December 2000

Historical Portfolio: Mary Eleanor Browning by Peter Palmquist

Archive 5  January 2001 - March 2001

Historical Portfolio: Kodak Girls, by Peter Palmquist

Archive 6  April 2001 - June 2001

Historical Profile, Mary Winslow; by Peter Palmquist

Archive 8  October 2001 - December 2001
Historical Profile: Is Anatomy Destiny? by Peter Palmquist
(WIPI 20th Anniversary multi-media CD Forward by Peter)

Archive 9  January 2002 - March 2002
Historical Profile: Mrs. Tape as Wonderwoman

Archive 10  April 2002 - June 2002
Historical Profile: Progress Report: Directory Pioneer Women Photographers of the World by Peter Palmquist


Archive 10   April 2002 - June 2002
Carol Glauber Book Review
Pioneer Photographers of the Far West A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865
by Peter E. Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn, Foreword by Martha A. Sandweiss
Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865
Stanford University Press, 2000
ISBN:0-8047-3883-1
679 pages


IN TRIBUTE: PETER PALMQUIST, 1936-2003
By Susan Ehrens
Published in Black & White Magazine, April 2003.
Posted Courtesy Susan Ehrens and the publishers of Black & White Magazine.


Peter Eric Palmquist died on January 13, 2003, in Oakland, California at the age of 66. While out walking his dog, Max, in Emeryville, Peter suffered severe injuries to his brain after a speeding car (a hit-and-run) struck him in a crosswalk on January 11. He never regained consciousness and died surrounded by his family.

Peter Palmquist was born in 1936 in Oakland. He lived most of his life in rural Humboldt County, California where his childhood education included a one-room school house with eight students; his high school graduating class totaled twenty-seven students. At the age of twelve, Peter taught himself photography, and he served five years as an Army photographer and twenty-eight years as a photographer for Humboldt Sate University before retiring in 1989.

In 1971, the owner of an antique store in McKinleyville presented Peter with a “fistful” of old photographs taken by local photographers completely unknown to him. The rest is history-- photo history-- for that fistful of photographs blossomed into a passion for photographs and an obsession for research and history.

At his death, Peter had amassed more than 150,000 images, including scores from the earliest days of Western American photography and some 50,000 photographs documenting more than 100 years of history in Humboldt County. His principal interests were the American West, California before 1950, and the international history of women in photography. He was the founding editor of the Daguerreian Annual, past president of the National Stereoscopic Association, and founder and curator of the Women in Photography International Archive. He served as a consultant and researcher on such projects as Ken Burns's television documentary, The West and consulted for museums and libraries including the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Huntington Library, the Amon Carter Museum, and UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. Peter, referred to affectionately by some as “PEP,”(for his initials and his ceaseless animation and energy) was respected throughout the photographic community as a generous and collaborative historian.

Peter was a respected authority on well-known California photographer Carleton E. Watkins, but he preferred to focus his research on lesser known or totally unknown photographers. According to photographer and professor emeritus Ira Latour, “Peter honored those unknowns of our field who built the greater foundations upon which the giants stand.”

Peter wrote or edited over 60 books and monographs (many of them self-published) and 340 articles. In 2001, he and Thomas R. Kailbourn won the Denver Public Library's prestigious Caroline Bancroft Western History Prize for their book, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865 (Stanford University Press, 2000). At the time of his passing, Peter and Thomas had just submitted the manuscript for the second volume of this series, which Peter hoped would eventually include all of the United States. In a 2001 interview with the Times-Standard, he described his love for collecting old photographs. "I was absolutely hooked on my need to search out the lives of pioneer photographers -- a search which quickly expanded to include all the rest of California and finally the American West."

According to Carl Mautz, a close friend and collaborator/publisher, “Peter scoured libraries and historical society archives for decades to tease out every fact he could from primary sources. He was a giant in our world, a meticulous, caring, ubiquitous dynamo of activity and information who cast treasure after treasure into our community.”

With tremendous enthusiasm, Peter had recently transferred his extensive collection of photographs and research materials to Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Immediately after Peter’s death, email tributes began to pour in from all over the world, posted on the web by Peter’s friend, Carl Mautz. To read more these and more about Peter’s life and work (with links to bibliographies), or to add your own remembrances of Peter, see the website for Carl Mautz Publishing, www.carlmautz.com. With sincere sympathy to Peter’s entire family, especially his partner of 26 years, writer Pam Mendelsholn----Susan Ehrens, B&W magazine.


Iron, pulp, and mirrored glass: photography, in all of its varied manifestations, has the distinction of evoking memories of place and person--a sort of medium as medium. Peter's tragic death has left us to comprehend the sudden loss of someone who shared the stories that photography holds in such an effective matter so as to render the image and its maker almost immortal. What remains alive today is Peter s incredible personal and professional legacy. Peter excelled in his ability to trace the legacies of photographers by paying homage to the multifaceted lives of these image-makers, be they paupers or princesses, jesters or kings. Peter's legacy as a photographer and photohistorian is only made more meaningful by our own personal memories of this quiet man. Peter left impressions on many of us that extend beyond emulsion to reveal a man who lived with passion and purpose.

I was fortunate enough to know Peter not only as an accomplished photohistorian, but also as a warm and humble friend with whom I grew potatoes and strawberries, raised chickens and hiked in the Northern California wilderness. Peter and I first met in the summer of 2001, shortly after I'd finished my undergraduate studies in anthropology and photography. It was fitting, then, that I would find a mentor in this "archaeologist of photography,"as Peter once described himself. I was immediately struck by the tremendous enthusiasm with which Peter approached his work and his life. Researching, writing and archiving are often thankless tasks, involving seemingly endless amounts of material to sort through and make sense of. And yet Peter conducted his work with grace, exuberance and generosity.

Peter crafted his contributions to the history of photography in much the same manner as he constructed chicken coops and greenhouses, applying equal measures of salvage, improvisation and practicality. His library, with its rough red exterior and corrugated metal roof, was a sort of clubhouse in which we could bounce ideas off one another and transform piles of primary documents into a previously untold history of 19th century women photographers. Working alongside Peter at the Women in Photography International Archive was an honor and a pleasure, and I am forever grateful for the friendship we share.

Suzanna A. Urminska

Associate Curator
Women in Photography International Archive
Arcata, CA