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Collection Highlight: Ross Vinson, Funk Bro. Seed Company Photographer

Much of my time as Registrar at the McLean County Museum of History is spent looking through the lens of a camera, photographing the 20,000+ objects in our collection. Capturing the perfect image doesn’t always come easily and I’m always impressed by anyone with a good eye for photography. One such individual is Ross Vinson, who began his 35-year career with the Funk Bros. Seed Company in February 1935, and was placed in charge of Laboratory Facilities in 1941. Additionally, Mr. Vinson served as the company’s photographer, capturing national sales meetings, company-wide gatherings and public events, and providing pictures for much of Funk’s company publications.

Photo taken by Ross Vinson at the Illinois Associates Workshop in Peoria, IL, January 31, and February 1, 1962. (Thank you to Jennifer Schauer, Archivist at the Funk Prairie Home Museum, for providing this photo!)

Graflex Speed Graphic camera owned by Ross Vinson (top). Speed Graphics were known as press cameras and used a 4” x 5” film format (pictured above).

Mr. Vinson was not only considered an excellent photographer by his co-workers at Funk’s, but he was a well-respected member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and KodaRoamers Camera Club of Bloomington-Normal, as well. Between 1965 and 1982, he accumulated many awards and acknowledgements from national and international competitions for his nature photography, including the following:

  • Best of Show - PSA, Salt Lake City, 1965
  • Best in Show - PSA, Westchester, 1966
  • Best Nature Slide - PSA, Denver, 1967
  • Best Nature Slide - Academy of Science & Art of Pittsburgh, 1967
  • Nature Division Award - Santa Barbara International Exhibition of Photography, 1968
  • Best Slide - PSA, Detroit, 1969
  • Salon Internacional Fotografico de Rosario, Argentina (1969)
  • Illinois State Fair International Color Slide Exhibit (1970)

Ribbons & medals presented to Mr. Vinson for his entries in the nature division of several amateur photography competitions between 1965 and 1970.

In 1982, Mr. Vinson was recognized by the PSA for his long and devoted service to their Nature Division. The Museum is proud to own this local talent’s extensive collection of cameras, equipment, and personal achievements.

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