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Arthur C. Pillsbury - Time Line


Arthur is born to Dr. and Mrs.Harlin Henry Pillsbury in Medford, Massachusetts where his father has established a medical practice after receiving his degree from Harvard University.  


Arthur comes to California with his family, Drs. Harlin Henry and Harriet Foster Pillsbury.  They arrive by ship into San Francisco having taken a ship down the East Coast from New York, where Harriet graduated from the Women's Infirmary of New York in 1880 with a medical degree.  Crossing the Isthmus by wagons, they again took ship to San Francisco.  They settled in Auburn and purchased land and put in a fruit farm while practicing medicine there. 


May 18 - Arthur graduates from Sierra Normal College

             Arthur has been experimenting with breeding chickens from the time he was twelve and selling them to local stores.
             His parents brought the first two microscopes to California and he had early been using these for experiments he had carried out.  


Begins college at Stanford University. 


Arthur designs and builds a specimen slicer for producing slides for a microscope. While a student at Stanford University.


Photographs of the first Fraternity Rush at Stanford University.

            Photos in archives, Stanford University, articles from local papers. 
             Photos were sold as solios from Pillsbury's shop in Palo Alto.  

             Builds the first motorcycle in California.  

             More on what ACP is doing.  

May 24 - June -First bicycle to Yosemite from Palo Alto. Documented in The Daily Palo Alto, Friday, May 24 


Circuit Panorama Camera – Senior Project in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford  

Marries Ella C. Wing, the adopted daughter of his Senior Adviser.  


With Julius Boysen, Pillsbury bought a studio in Yosemite. His wife leaves him. 
          The marriage is annulled two years later.  Ella becomes a nurse at what is now Stanford Medical Center.                 
           She never marries.  

              Pillsbury decides to go to the Yukon to photograph the opening of the mining fields in the Yukon with his circuit panorama camera. Returned to Yukon for two years to continue photographing the Gold Rush.

              Photos from archives and collectors and Harper’s Weekly, June 9, 1900. Documented 
              in partial autobiography on file at university archives, Berkeley, CA.

             Article:  The San Francisco Call - Volume 85, Number 60, 29 January 1899 — "Worshiped by the Natives and Sacrifices Made to It Until Very Recently."

             Meets and photographs John Muir while he is on his cruise with Harriman.  


Photograph of John Muir for Camera Craft Magazine, appearing in article by Olaf Ellison.  
              Works as a stringer for Underwood and Underwood.  


Photographed President Theodore Roosevelt in Yosemite at the Grizzly Giant with his party.
             Photo on file, Pillsbury  Picture Company.   

             Pillsbury Article: Camera Craft Magazine, Vol. IV SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, APRIL, 1902 No. 6.   titled, Through the High Sierras on Skis. Photos and article by Arthur C. Pillsbury.

             Hired by the Examiner in San Francisco as a photojournalist. 


March - Quits the Examiner and starts the Pillsbury Picture Company. 

             April 18 - Photographed the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire with the circuit panorama camera.  Photos in collections throughout the world bearing name of Pillsbury Picture Co. Also documented in autobiography, university archives, Berkeley, CA. 

             With the proceeds from the San Francisco photos bought the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite.


May 6 - Photos of the White Fleet coming into San Francisco and also while still on route, Panoramas and conventional shots.


August - The Pacific Aero Club (PAC) held a static exhibition in the exhibit hall, AC Pillsbury, a PAC member, displayed his newly purchased balloon, the Fairy, with a 10,000 cubic foot capacity.  It was the smallest manned balloon in the Bay area.  Shown with it was Pillsbury's panoramic automatic camera built to be used from the balloon.  AC Pillsbury had purchased the balloon from its creator, Roy Knabenshue.  Name of PAC President was J. C. Irvine.  Opening speech explained the Club's goal to popularize the science and sport or aeronautics.   

First Nature Movie made and showed at Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite 

             Aerial photographs of the rebuilding of San Francisco from a balloon moored in the harbor.  Documented, article from San Francisco Call, October 31, 1909. 

Photographed first Air Show in Southern California, Dominguez Hills, from a balloon.
            Documented, Sunset Magazine, March Issue, titled, From One Aircraft to Another.


June - Reporter Cleve Shaffer of Aeronautics Magazine reports that in the San Francisco Bay area in June 1911 that A. Kneiling and AC Pillsbury were building an original biplane and motor another 30 others which included Adolph Sutro and Mr. Kierulf had begun building Sutro's huge boxy design which Sutro would later fly from the Bay prior to the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915.   Construction was taking place at the California Aero Manuracturing and Supply Company (CAMASCO).  Source Wooden Wings Over the Golden Gate: Early Aviation in the San Francisco Bay Area 1910 - 1939 by Allan Herr

September 3 - Sunday -  Arthur's brother, Dr. Ernest S. Pillsbury, and his wife, Sylvia, are killed in an auto accident on La Casitas Pass on their way to Santa Barbara to celebrate their anniversary.  Their three children, also in the car, are injured, but not killed. 

                    4     Monday  - AC leaves on the train for Hollywood, where he will take custody of
                          the children. 

                    5 - Tuesday - Notice appears in the Berkeley Daily Gazette.         

November 13 - Arthur C. Pillsbury adopts Ernest S., Jr., Grace Sylvia, and Arthur Francis, the three children of his deceased brother at the Oakland Courthouse, Alameda, County.  Adoption papers


April - From Aeronautics Magazine, April 27, Page 103, powered by 12 cylinder motor.  A Kneiling of PAC claimed to have built a tandem wing biplane at U. S. Cavalry Flat Air Field at the Presidio by the Golden Gate.  The craft was powered by a 12 cylinder motor also built by him.  The tandem wing configuration was employed by the failed Langley (Aerodrome) and Montgomery's ill-fated glider the Santa Clara.  It is doubtful the ill-fated airplane ever flew.

Invented the first lapse-time camera to be used with plants.
            Documented in written form in his book, Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life, Lippincott, 1937.  Also in news articles printed at the time.  

            Made the first lapse-time movie showing the blossoming of the wildflowers.

            October 14 - 16 - Showed the first lapse-time movie of wildflowers for a Conference put on for Park   Superintendents and concessionaires nationally.  The conference was held in Yosemite Studio of the Three Arrows, Yosemite.

            First hand report from Arthur F. Pillsbury. 
            Changed policy of the Park Service relating to conservation. 
           Documented, Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life, Lippincott, 1937.
           Started the first modern nature center at the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite. 


Sunset Magazine, January, article Hidden Wonders of Hawaii.


August 6 - Pillsbury leads a party of mostly students from Stanford in an Ascent of Half Dome.

September 30 - Letter from AC on PPC Stationary to: Mr Geo. Bell, Supt., Yosemite National Park asking for lands to be protected.  


Early June - Pillsbury drives over the Tioga Pass into Yosemite, the first car to do so that year. 
            The story is told by Hil Oehlmann, a Curry employee who accompanied Pillsbury and an artist friend of his   and  the friend's wife. The story was published in The Saga of a Century, edited by Jack Gyer.  Publication date was January 1,1965.

            Makes a movie for David Curry

            Indian Field Days, Yosemite. Organized event for the economic benefit of the Miwok.  

           Pillsbury is holding workshops in photography at the Studio in Yosemite.   Later, Earl Brooks, Harry Pidgeon  and Ansel Adams will take his classes.

           Documented, Arthur F. Pillsbury, oral transmission, Mariposa Gazette.   

            Pillsbury begins speaking tours showing his films and promoting the National Park Service and the Sierra Club.


Built and used first printer for mass producing photo postcards. 


First movies and aerial photos of Yosemite. 
            Documented by photos and articles.  


First colorized movies of flowers blooming.


Patented first printer for mass producing photo postcards, Patent No. 1,574,687, filed November 14, 1922. 


Studio of the Three Arrows moves to New Village in Yosemite. The movie theater seats 350.
 May 24 - Article about Pillsbury in the Mariposa Gazette


March 15 - Dinner Presentation for President Coolidge.  During Pillsbury's regular speaking tour of the East Coast Pillsbury gives a lecture to the President and 70 guests of Secretary of the Interior, D. Hubert Work.  The dinner takes place at the Willard Hotel. 


Invents the first microscopic motion picture camera, Berkeley, California.

            Documented by article in Sunset Magazine, May issue. Documented in written form in his book,  Picturing Miracles of  Plant and Animal Life, Lippincott, 1937 and in news articles printed at the time. 

November - Pillsbury Studio in Yosemite is burned and his collection of images is presumed destroyed.


Invented the first X-ray motion picture camera, Berkeley, California.

October 16 - Announcement of a lecture at Wheeler Auditorium, Berkeley for a lecture that 
                       night by Pillsbury.  Provided by Professor Kenneth H. Cardwell, Pres. Berkeley
                       Historical Society.  Short Bio


September 17 - George Banfield, a partner in the new Pillsbury Studio in Yosemite commits
                       suicide depressed by being left in debts he can never hope to pay.  Death Certificate

December 18 - Wed., Dec. 18---ARTHUR C. PILLSBURY Lecture at the University of British 
                           Columbia on "Processes of Life in the Plant and Animal Worlds "
                          (Motion Picture Flower Growth Pictures in Color, etc. )


Invented the first underwater motion picture camera.
             Documented in written form in his book, Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life, Lippincott, 1937.   Reference to  use of film in papers in 1930.  


Filmed process of hydroponics at Berkeley of studies done by Dr. William F. Gericke at Berkeley.  
             Documented in written form in his book. Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life, Lippincott, 1937.Used films for his lecture series.  


Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life, by Arthur C. Pillsbury,  is published by Lippincott & Lippincott.


July 24 - The Stanford Daily The Stanford Daily, Volume 102, Issue 22, 24 July 1942 

Botanist Will Be Tuesday Speaker
Next week's Tuesday Evening Series program will feature a lecture on "Scientific Diversions" by Arthur C. Pillsbury, noted photographer and botanist. The lecture will be given at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall. Mr. Pillsbury will use colored motion pictures taken by special processes to tell the story of movement and growth in plants. Included in his picture will be flowers of California, both wild and cultivated, and those of Hawaii, Suva. Samoa, Panama, Colombia, and Jamaica, which he photographed on his various trips. Mr. Pillsbury has secured these visual records of plant life by the use of microscopes, cameras, a motor gear mechanism, and numerous other devices of his own invention, including a special camera that takes X-ray motion pictures of plants during their growth. He is able, by the use of 600 pictures, to show in detail the birth of a lily—a process which takes but 25 seconds.

Identified the process of osmosis in plants.
             Documented, Popular Science article.  


March 5 - Pillsbury dies.