From the Archives

By Simpson, Ethel C. | The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

From the Archives


Simpson, Ethel C., The Arkansas Historical Quarterly


The Thase Daniel Collection at Ouachita Baptist University

ARCHIVES COLLECT PHOTOGRAPHS for their intrinsic content, for biographical and historical information, and for what they reveal about the history of photography and the media that use images. In Arkansas, many important collections of photographs are maintained in libraries, museums, and other archival institutions. The Thase Daniel Collection in Special Collections, Riley-Hickingbotham Library, Ouachita Baptist University (Arkadelphia), documents the lifework of one of the world's foremost nature and wildlife photographers. Daniel's photographs appeared in major magazines and publications for more than thirty years.

Born December 5,1907, in Pine Bluff, Thase Christine Ferguson graduated from Ouachita Baptist College in 1927 with a degree in music. She married John T. Daniel, an enthusiastic outdoorsman, and taught herself the craft of photography as she accompanied him to duck blinds, swamps, and fishing streams near their home in El Dorado. Although her first efforts were family snapshots, in time she extended her range both technically and geographically. She steadily upgraded her equipment and her knowledge of birds, her principal subject. She studied extensively their habitats, nesting areas, migration and feeding habits, and songs and mating calls. Her career as a free-lance nature photographer took her all over the world, from the Kalahari desert in Africa to the Galapagos Islands. Among her numerous adventures, she went on a two-week expedition by dogsled across the Greenland icecap, rode an elephant across a river in India, and had her ankle broken by a 600-pound bull sea lion.

Daniel's photographs enjoyed wide circulation. One of her bestknown early photographs shows her husband fishing for trout in a Colorado stream. Kodak acquired this picture in the early 1950s and displayed it in camera shops throughout the United States. Her work was published in books and magazines of the National Geographic Society; National Wildlife, Ranger Rick, International Wildlife, Sports Afield, and Field and Stream magazines; and in books published by the National Audubon Society, Time-Life, and Reader's Digest. Wings on the Southwind: Birds and Creatures of the Southern Wetlands, with photographs by Daniel and text by Franklin Russell, was published in 1984 with an introduction by the eminent bird-watcher and writer Roger Tory Peterson. …

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