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Shuster Aerial Photograph Collection
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Collection Overview
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Between 1946 and the mid 1960s Merle Shuster was hired by land developers, timber owners, and lumber mill owners to photograph specific sites. Approximately half the images in the collection come from these assignments and the other half are what Mr. Shuster chose to photograph as he was flying to and from the designated site. Most of the images are taken at an oblique angle, giving the viewer a richer sense of the landscape. Scenes from the burgeoning post-war lumber industry on Humboldt Bay and nearby coastal areas form the majority of the collection. Other scenes include rivers, country roads and farmsteads, small towns, and stunning landscapes. Humboldt Bay, Eureka, Arcata, Trinidad, and Crescent City are particularly well documented.
Merle Shuster's interest in photography started when he was in high school. After he graduated from Eureka High School he attended Humboldt State College for two years and then joined the United States Navy for two years. In the Navy Merle received intensive training in photography, including aerial photography. Upon his discharge in 1945 Merle returned to Eureka and took a job at Photo Specialty Shop. He worked there from 1946 until 1960. Merle also gained photograph experience by working at Swanlund Studio and Camera Shop. Merle started his own photography business and by late 1946 was taking on assignments in aerial work as well as special occasions, such as weddings. His friend and fellow photographer, Jack Phegley, encouraged him and sold him the military surplus aerial cameras that Merle used throughout his career. Merle was a member of the American Association of Aerial Photographers. In 1960 Merle took over the management of Philip's Camera Shop in Arcata while the owner was away for a year. Next he worked at the Humboldt Market grocery store in Eureka for four years, then he was at Proctor's Photographic Engineering Center for two or three years. During all this time he continued his photography business. From 1969 until he retired in 1991 Merle worked for Channel 6 television station in Eureka. Over the years Merle has generously shared his images with researchers and publishers. Many of them have been published in a wide assortment of reports and publications. Merle used three cameras in his aerial work, but it was the F-8 that produced the 5x7 negatives that make up the majority of the collection. The other cameras are a K-24 and a 4x5 Speed Graphic. Merle's sister, Evelyn Shuster Worthen, wrote about some aspects of the Shuster family history in a book titled, A Castle in Fairyland and other stories of The Carson Family and their Mansions.
3 cubic feet; approximately 2400 items
Copyright has been assigned to Humboldt State University. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce in any format, please contact the Special Collections Librarian.
The collection is open for research.