The Kinseys
Darius and Tabitha Kinsey were a remarkable husband and wife photographic team whose partnership began in Whatcom County in 1896. With Darius taking photographs in the field and Tabitha developing prints in the darkroom, the partnership continued for 50 years, capturing images of Northwest landscapes, town life, portraits, and various industries.

More than 4,700 negatives and 600 prints make up a valuable Northwest legacy whose fame has reached as far as Europe and Japan. The photographs have been published in many historical reference books, used on the covers of novels, shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and exhibited in the company of some of America's greatest photographers such as Timothy O'Sullivan, William Henry Jackson and Eadweard Muybridge.

Kinsey saw the woods as a great cathedral; the feathery grain of tree bark, dappled forest light, the sheen on a locomotive and the grime on a logger's shirt are all visible in amazing detail.

For Kinsey, finding the perfect shot sometimes meant dodging avalanches, crossing crevasses and jumping over rattlesnakes. On family outings, he was known to jump out of the car on a moment's notice, set up his equipment on the shoulder of the road or disappear up a trail.

The Photographs
The Kinsey photographs were not intended as works of art but as records of the people, places and industries of the time. Among his most popular prints are scenes from all phases of the logging industry, from the first cut of a giant cedar, to the skid roads, saw mills, lumber yards and finally to the shipping ports. Other subjects include transportation: oxen, steam locomotives, different stages of train trestle construction, and architecture: churches, hotels, cottages, bridges and dams.

His love for the outdoors led him to photograph mountains, glaciers, rivers, waterfalls, grasslands and prairies. But Kinsey not only covered the Northwest with his camera; he also photographed famous sites around the Nation, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Garden of the Gods in Colorado and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

The high quality and detail of his prints was produced by making contact prints from original large negatives. Kinsey also took hundreds of stereo-camera shots, made glass lantern slide images, and purchased a "Cirkut" camera for taking panoramic views.

The Life of the Kinseys
Kinsey was born in Maryville, Missouri on July 23, 1869. The son of a carpenter and horse trader, he spent his formative years in the Missouri-Kansas area and came west with his older brother Alfred to Snoqualmie, Washington, at the age of 20. The rest of the family came later and built the Mt. Si Hotel at that site.

A photo studio in Snoqualmie drew the curiosity of young Kinsey and, in 1890, he bought his first 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 camera. After taking camera lessons from a Mrs. Spalding in Seattle, he was in business.

Darius met Tabitha Pritts at her parents' homestead in Nooksack, Whatcom County, while he was working as an itinerant photographer in Skagit and Whatcom counties. On October 8, 1896, about two years after they met, Darius and Tabitha were married.

The following year, the Kinseys built a combination home and studio in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, where Darius took studio portraits and scenic shots. Here, Tabitha could be close to her family and Darius close to the logging operations.

The Kinseys were active in the Methodist Church where Tabitha sang in the choir and Darius supervised Sunday School. Kinsey advertised that he took photographs "every day of the year except Sunday". On Sundays, he would not even accept payment for a photograph.

In 1906, the Kinseys moved their business to Seattle. Kinsey decided he would no longer take studio portraits but instead focused on the logging industries and scenic views of the Northwest. Tabitha continued to develop negatives and make prints, which were then sent back to the logging camps to be sold to the loggers at a cost of 50 cents to $1.50 a picture.

A fall from a stump in 1940 ended Kinsey's fifty-year career as photographer. Kinsey died in 1945; his wife surviving him until 1963. Both are buried at Nooksack along with other members of the Pritts family.

The History of the Collection
A year after Kinsey's death, his wife sold the collection to Jesse Ebert of Seattle. Ebert cared for the collection for 25 years before selling it to California photographers Dave Bohn and Rodolfo Petschek. After carefully documenting the collection and researching the lives of the Kinseys, Bohn and Petschek published the two-volume book Kinsey Photographer in the fall of 1975. The book contains dozens of Kinsey's photographs and includes essays by his children, Dorothea and Darius, Jr.

In conjunction with the book, an exhibition by the same name opened that year at the Oakland Museum in California. The exhibition traveled throughout the western states for more than two years. The Whatcom Museum acquired the entire Kinsey collection in January, 1979.

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