Contributing Photographers in the Digital Collections

While the vast majority of photographs in the Sonoma County Digital Collectons were created by unknown photographers, a few photographers and studios are well represented. The Collections also includes works by Bill Stratton (Stratton Photography) (Healdsburg), Arthur Freeman (Freeman Foto) (Petaluma), William Shaw (Santa Rosa), Jeff Lee Kan (Santa Rosa), Geoffrey Skinner (Sebastopol), Ken Schroll (Ken Schroll Studios) (Santa Rosa), Lothers & Young Studios (San Francisco) and Decker & Decker (Petaluma).



Borba, William S. "Bill"


William S. "Bill" Borba (1886-1971) was the son of Portuguese immigrant parents who moved from Alameda to Sebastopol in 1893 with their family of eleven children. As a boy, he earned money through a variety of jobs ranging from picking blackberries to walking cows. By age 22, he'd earned enough money to start his own business--a stationery store. He became a dealer for Victor Talking Machines in 1923, later adding radios to his stock (and earning his nickname "Radio Bill"). He further added Kodak cameras to his offerings when they were introduced. After he sold his business in 1944, he pursued his hobby as an amateur historian active in the local Native Sons of the Golden West parlor and built an archive of historical photos of Sebastopol. He later passed his archive on to fellow Native Son Ed Trigiero, whose collection forms the core of the Western Sonoma County Historical Society's West County Museum.





Camhi, Morrie


He was known for intense, probing portraits and he was also a teacher and businessman.

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.






Downing, J. H. (Joseph Henry)


J. H. Downing was born in Bristol, N.H. Nov. 28, 1842. He settled in Healdsburg, Calif., where he established a photography studio and chronicled the early development of Healdsburg and the surrounding areas of northern Sonoma County.








Harris, Dennis E.


Dennis E. Harris (1939-2009) was Professor of History at Sonoma State University for 38 years and cultural resources specialist. He was honored by the California State Assembly for his life's work. The Sonoma County Library Photograph Collection includes numerous photographs taken as part of the culture resource reports conducted by Harris and students.



Lark, Newton A.


Newton A. Lark established a pharmacy in Guerneville and was a well-known photographer in the area. He is best known for the real-photo postcards that chronicled the lower Russian River area during the pre-Depression resort boom.


LeBaron, John

John LeBaron (1924-2014) 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 was married to prominent Sonoma County historian Gaye LeBaron.









MacLean, Dabirma (Birma) Still


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 photographer in California in the early 20th century. Still married La Panza rancher John McLean in 1904 and the couple moved to Petaluma, Calif. in 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.


Meacham, Don



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 a 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.






Rhea, J. B.


J. B. Rhea (1872-1946) was a Guerneville-area photographer who specialized in portraits and real-photo postcards


Rinehart, Katherine J.


Katherine J. Rinehart is a Petaluma, Calif. historian and writer. She served as as Sonoma County Archivist and manager of the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library for a number of years. She specializes in architectural history.







Skinner, Hal


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.






Stark, Alexander J. "Zan"


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.