As a freelance photographer in Humboldt County during the mid 20th century, Merle Shuster was often contracted by local people,
businesses, land developers, and insurance companies. Photographs in this collection represent a mixture of images he was
hired to take as well as images he chose to take, helping to illustrate Humboldt County’s growth during the post-war period.
Highlights from the collection include: the evolution of suburban housing around Arcata, such as the Bloomfield and Sunny
Brae areas; industry expansions and business developments in Eureka; documentation of accidents and natural disasters, including
related recovery operations; and footage of marijuana seizures from both Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) and Operation
Greensweep in the 1990s.
Biographical information provided by Edie Butler (2006), taken from the Shuster Aerial Photograph Collection finding aid:
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.
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.
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.
2.5 Cubic feet; 7 boxes
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contact the Special Collections Librarian.
Open for research by appointment.