Peter Palmquist 1936-2003
Peter Palmquist photo: Nancy Clendaniel/Renton, WA, October 1997
Peter E. Palmquist photograph: Mary K. Brown, 1991
Peter Palmquist 1936-2003
Palmquist's Memorial Tribute
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
Refreshments and Memories will be served.
RSVPs and requests for a list of hotels should be sent to
Pam Mendelsohn is assembling a Write of Passage book to be distributed to family members and for permanent inclusion with the Peter E. Palmquist Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Please write a one or two page memory or impression of Peter for the book.
E-mail your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1, 2003.
Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research
Letter from Jean Ferro to WIPI Members 1/30/03
articles contributed to WomenInPhotography.org 1999-2002
IN TRIBUTE: PETER PALMQUIST, 1936-2003
By Susan Ehrens
Published in Black & White Magazine, April 2003
for articles or information currently on our website related to Peter, please search
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. Please visit www.CarlMautz.com for a special tribute to Peter.
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 Internationa
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 orginal Tribute to Peter has been change to April 12will be held on Saturday, April 12, 2003, 2:00 PM until 4:30PM
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.
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, email@example.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.
www.womeninphotography.org 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 nomineest
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
IN TRIBUTE: PETER PALMQUIST, 1936-2003