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Weatherwax (Seema) photographs
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Related Materials

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Seema Weatherwax photographs
    creator: Weatherwax, Seema, 1905-2006
    Identifier/Call Number: M0868
    Physical Description: 3 linear ft.
    Physical Description: 3 box(es)
    Date (inclusive): 1933-1993
    Abstract: 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.


    Collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    Seema Weatherwax photographs, M0868. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Biography / Administrative History

    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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Collection contains prints and and negatives of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake (commercial prints not by Weatherwax) ; Woodie Guthrie, Fred Ross, and the Shafter farm labor camp, 1941 ; a Los Angeles labor demonstration, 1945 ; the Hollywood strike, 1945 ; and many formal and informal photographs from the Yosemite camera workshops with Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, 1941-1942. Also included is a 24-page typescript, "The Queen of Montgomery Street," by her husband, John M. Weatherwax.

    Related Materials

    University of California, Santa Cruz also holds a collection on Seema Weatherwax. The Archives of American Art holds a collection of John Weatherwax papers related to Rivera and Kahlo.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Agricultural laborers--California.
    Earthquakes--Long Beach.
    Shafter (Calif.)
    Weatherwax, Seema, 1905-2006
    Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984
    Guthrie, Woodie, 1912-1967.
    Ross, Fred, 1910-1992
    Weatherwax, John M.
    Weston, Edward.
    Lancelot, Sir
    Film and Photo League (U.S.)