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Weatherwax (Seema) photographs
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Seema Aissen Weatherwax was a photographer and social activist who was part of the Film and Photo League, worked with Ansel Adams in Yosemite, and shot Woody Guthrie and migrant workers at a California FSA camp. Collection contains prints and negatives, as well as an original typescript by her husband John Weatherwax.
Emigrating from Tsarist Russia with her parents in 1913 to escape persecution and the conscription act, Seema Aissen graduated from high school and began studying science courses in Leeds, England. A few years after her father's death, her mother took the three daughters to Boston to join relatives, and Seema became involved in photography. She moved to Southern California in 1929, lived in Tahiti for a year, and upon returning to Los Angeles joined the Film and Photo League in 1934. Ansel Adams asked her to run his darkroom in Yosemite in 1938. The following year she assisted Adams with the first Camera Workshop in Yosemite. In 1941 Seema met the writer Jack Weatherwax, and together with folk singer Woody Guthrie visited the Shafter Farm Security Administration Camp, managed by noted civil rights advocate Fred Ross. At Shafter she photographed Dust Bowl refugees and their surroundings. The Weatherwaxes moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1984. Following the death of her husband, Seema continued her activism, including working with the NAACP and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and at the age of 95 organized the first exhibition of her work. She passed away in 2006, two months shy of her 101st birthday.
3 linear ft.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.