Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Arthur C. Pillsbury was an inventor of cameras and film-maker who realized the power of  Panoramic to Microscopic Photography,
X-Ray to Underwater Cinematography to connect us to Nature. 

 He changed our relationship with Life as part of the natural world

His half-century creating innovations with mechanical camera devices and techniques brought him to the attention of William Randolph Hearst, Pathe, Paramount, and Universal which distributed his films world-wide.   This was one of his uses of film and photography which helped pay his way through Stanford University.  

The Beginning


12 December  - The Daily Palo Alto - "Pillsbury `96 has a new movie making instrument for  Saturday's game. They will be for sale at Encina Hall, on Thursday and Friday." [NOTE:  The date and location indicate this is during the period when AC had built an 'unofficial' darkroom in the attic area, then unfinished, of Encina Hall.]
   AC Pillsbury was using a camera, this might have been his first movie camera, but the use does not appear to surprise the reporter at the local paper.  A pursual of more notices show AC was providing services to the paper as well as being covered.  These action films  were used as we would use a Motor Drive today, extracting the best sports stop-motion frames; and sold these as single pictures, postcards, or news photo coverage. 
     Soon, he owned and was running two businesses, a bicycle shop and a photographic studio just outside the gates of Stanford University.   In 1897 his senior project was the first circuit panorama camera.  His senior advisor told him it could not work.  AC built it - it worked.  Disgusted, he left Stanford. 

The Pillsbury Photographic Studio and Bicycle Shops just outside the gates of Stanford University

  In 1896 AC married Miss Ella Wing, who left him after only a few months, preferring to train to be a nurse than spend the summer months in the wilderness of Yosemite at the studio AC had bought with Julius T. Boysen.  
   AC sold his businesses and left for the Yukon with his cameras, especially the circuit panorama camera, there to record the opening of the mining fields. In1899 he purchased a canoe, installing  a portable darkroom in the canoe.  In each mining town AC sold panoramas to gold-laden miners, accepting payment in gold and sending the panoramas back from his next stop.  Along with the cameras he took his guns for protection and books to read.  Below is the photo he took from the ship on which he returned to California in late 1899 from Nome Alaska.  

The Story Continues Into the 21st Century