Photography of Washington State 1890-1940
January 21, 2023 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Seattle Times: A photographer named Darius Kinsey... regularly traveled the Western Washington countryside seeking out subjects, and potential customers. He’d started his photography business in Snohomish in 1890, a few years earlier... Tabitha Pritts ... caught his eye, and he hers. Darius and Tabitha married in 1896, thus embarking on a 50-year photographic partnership... Thousands of images produced by Darius and Tabitha reside at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham. (Archived) posted by ShooBoo (6 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, this is super interesting, and the photos are extraordinary.
In 1915, they cataloged their negatives and selected 240 of the best; most were 11-by-14 glass negatives. The rest were taken to Pacific Picture Frame in Seattle and destroyed, possibly as many as 10,000.
WHAT?!? WHY?!?!? Oh, man, I just - I love archives, I love old photos, and this is so distressing to me.

Still. The current archive contains about 4,000 images, so there's still a lot to be thankful for.

The article mentions how the demand for these photos has gone down - people are less interested in seeing the early history of clear-cutting - and as a lover of trees, especially giant, majestic trees, I certainly understand that feeling. But this is history - that time was full of hundreds of people, individuals, who went out into those forest and lived and worked there, and this is a thing that happened, and to get to know what it looked like, it all its beauty and also all its destruction and devastation - that's important.

I'm so glad each of the individuals who took over the collection - Jesse Ebert, and especially Dave Bohn (who "always wanted to contribute to the history of photography in some way, and he thought this could be his chance") made the effort to acquire the photos, and especially grateful that Bohn and Petschek ultimately sold it to the museum - and very pleased that they stipulated that the museum needed to make copies to help preserve the images against degradation.

There's so much to see here: the mess halls, the buildings, the waitresses. I mean, Toddler with toy bear and two dogs is quite a thing.

Thank you so much for posting this, ShooBoo. I'm really glad to know about it, and so grateful to everyone who's helped maintain this archive.
posted by kristi at 3:05 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]

A local! Boy, those were some wild times (documented well, I am told, by the novel The Living). My family came out to the PNW around then and settled in the San Juans and Bellingham. Hell of a lot of timber came through over the decades. My grandpa used to watch timber barges go by with binoculars and if a log fell off, he and the kids (my uncles and mother) would go out in a boat and claim it. There's still old timber industry stuff and abandoned logs all over the place out here.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:19 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]

I like that picture of the two of them in working clothes.
posted by clew at 3:26 PM on January 21

Pretty sure this is the place that Laura Palmer... you know.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:45 PM on January 21

I live in the woods in western Washington and it is just sad and horrifying to see those photos of 1000 year old cedars cut down for lumber. No human will ever see a 12' diameter red cedar again.
posted by riotnrrd at 5:39 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]

Some of these photos were curated by University of Washington librarians and staff, who are planning a strike beginning in just a few days.

When you compare UW library and UW press worker wages to other U.S. universities and account for the Puget Sound’s high cost of living, UW wages rank 96th lowest among 100.
posted by lem at 3:10 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]

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