Sonoma County Library Photograph Collection

Fred Wiseman and his wife, Alice Wiseman in Cloverdale, Calif., 1911 photo
Sonoma County Library Photograph Collection

Images in the Sonoma County Library Photograph Collection date from the mid-19th century to present. They represent a broad range of people and places associated with Sonoma County's history and culture as captured by amateur and professional photographers. The collection is part of the Sonoma County Local History & Culture.

Note : Images concerned with wine and winemaking, the Sonoma County Fair and aerial views of the County may be found in other collections, as will photographs originally owned by other institutions such as the Sonoma County Historical Society. Browsing or searching all collections will allow you to find images within the entire Sonoma County Local History & Culture.

Children lined up outside Eagle School, Penngrove, California, circa 1910. Photographer: Dabirma Still Maclean

Photographers in This Collection

While the vast majority of photographs in this collection were created by unknown photographers, a few photographers are well represented, including:
  • Don Meacham (May 30, 1916-Feb. 28, 2010) was born in Cowell, Contra Costa County in 1916. He lived most of his life in Sonoma County where he retired as freelance commercial photographer after 50 years in the profession. He worked as a photographer in the Navy during WWII; was the flagship photographer on the U.S.S. Augusta during the North African invasion; and was Chief Photographer of the Naval Air Station in Santa Rosa until the war ended. Meacham was a charter member and chairman of the Santa Rosa Civic Art Commission and was instrumental in establishing Arttrium, the county's first visual and performing arts festival.
  • Dabirma (Birma) Still Maclean was born March 20, 1875, in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. She became known as the"First Lady of Photography" and was the most prominent woman photographers in California in the early 20th century. Still married La Panza rancher John McLean in 1904 and the couple moved to Petaluma, Calif. Iin 1908. While her husband worked as a certified public accountant for the cities of Petaluma and Santa Rosa, she continued work as a photographer, with a special interest in public buildings and local scenes of interest. She also produced many real-photo postcards and portraits for local residents. The couple returned to La Panza in 1920, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Birma McLean died in 1968.
  • Dennis E. Harris (1939-2009) was a prominent Sonoma County architectural historian and instructor at Sonoma State University.
  • Morrie Camhi (1928-1999) was a Petaluma photographer who documented Jewish communities around the world as well as the people and places of his hometown. He was known for intense, probing portraits and he was also a teacher and businessman.
  • Alexander J. "Zan" Stark (Apr. 10, 1889-Mar. 17, 1967) was born in Michigan moving to California in his early 20's. He first lived in San Francisco moving to Mill Valley in Marin County in the mid 1920's, where he established a studio at 324 Miller Avenue and worked as a postcard photographer. He worked from the 1920's into the early 1950's under the name Zan of Tamalpais. He was the official photographer of the Redwood Empire Association from 1936. Zan photographed the California coast from Monterey Co., Big Sur, the Redwood Highway and most of Northern California and southern Oregon. Zan moved to Sonoma around 1952 and died on March 17th, 1967 in a Sonoma rest home.
  • Katherine J. Rinehart is a Petaluma, Calif. historian and writer, as well as a member of the Sonoma County Library staff in the History & Genealogy Library. She specializes in architectural history.
  • Hal Skinner (1925-2004) moved to Sonoma County from Indiana in 1965 to serve as the first director of the Audio-Visual Department (later Instructional Resources Department) at Sonoma State College (later University). He later taught in the School of Education until retiring in 1988. He took up artist blacksmithing in retirement and was a featured exhibitor at the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol and Sturgeon's Sawmill in Occidental until his death at age 79.
  • John LeBaron (died 2014)  worked as a photographer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat from 1948 to 1968 and was chief photographer by the time he left to teach photography at the Santa Rosa Junior College. He taught at the SRJC until retiring in 1997, but remained an active photographer. He is married to prominent Sonoma County historian Gaye LeBaron.
  • Other photographers represented in the collection include Bill Stratton (Healdsburg), Arthur Freeman (Petaluma), William Shaw (Santa Rosa), A. L. Henley (Elk Grove), William Borba (Sebastopol), Geoffrey Skinner (Sebastopol), Ken Schroll Studios (Santa Rosa), Lothar & Young Studios (San Francisco) and Decker & Decker (Petaluma)

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