Issue #53  2/3/2003
Noted Photography Historian Peter Palmquist Dies in Hit-and-Run Accident

On Saturday, January 11, 2003, noted photo historian and researcher Peter Palmquist was struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking his dog Max near his fiancée Pam Mendelsohn's apartment in Emeryville, CA. He died later at the hospital, after being taken off of life support when his family was told there was little brain function.

Those wishing to send personal expressions of sympathy to Peter Palmquist's family may do so to: Family of Peter E. Palmquist, 1183 Union St. Arcata, CA 95521. A memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 12, 2003, 2:00 to 4:30 pm at the Morris Graves Museum of Art, 636 F St., Eureka, CA 95501. Remarks and sharing of stories begins at 2:45 pm. As the notice reads: "Refreshments and memories will be served." A Memorial Fund for Historical Research in Peter's name has also been announced. You can find out more on both the service and the funds by going to: http://www.carlmautz.com/palmquistservice.htm .

As friend and fellow researcher Carl Mautz notes, "Peter Palmquist was known to all in the photo history world as the Dean of California photo historians. Far beyond that informal title, he was a leading authority on the history of the photography of the West and on women in photography worldwide."

He was a top authority on Carleton Watkins, Peter Britt, and Lawrence & Houseworth. For many years Peter was the official photographer at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, from which he retired to become a full time photo history lecturer and consultant in the late 1980s.

He began collecting information and photographs in the early 1970s which led to a series of books on what Peter called "regional photographic history," beginning, of course, with his beloved Humboldt County. This resulted in a pioneering series of seven volumes entitled The Photographers of the Humboldt Bay Region. Co-authored with Lincoln Kilian, the series covered the period 1850 through 1885, and included a special edition on prominent Eureka photographer A. W. Erickson and another on a rare book with tipped-in photographs from the Edgar Cherry Lumber Co."

Peter was an exhaustive researcher who scoured libraries and historical society archives for decades to tease out every fact he could from primary sources on photographers in the West and women photographers. He lectured extensively throughout the world. He was the editor-in-chief of Photographers: A Sourcebook for Historical Research, past editor of The Daguerreian Annual, contributing editor or on the editorial board of Journal of the West, The Photographic Historian, The Californians, The Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. Peter published hundreds of books, articles and papers on many different aspects of photography. His latest project was his Women in Photography International Archive, the intent of which was to cover every facet of the participation of women in photography from the beginning to the present.

As Carl Mautz emailed me: "Peter was a giant in our world, a meticulous, caring, ubiquitous dynamo of activity and information, who cast treasure after treasure into our community. I will miss him."

Fellow researcher and co-author, Thomas Kailbourn wrote: "The best thing we as photo-historians can do to honor and remember Peter is to advance the field of research and strive to do it with the passion, conviction, and benevolence that he evinced. And when someone comes to you with an earnest question or request, please lend a hand if possible. So, Peter, I will see you at the next destination. As you liked to say, 'more anon.'"