by Peter Palmquist
Nellie Tichenor McGraw was the fourth of thirteen children born to Edward Walker McGraw and Sarah Ellen Tichenor. According to her son, McGraw first used a box camera in the last years of the nineteenth century.
"There are shots taken of a picnic, including the one of her on a stack holding the camera. She took a series of interiors of the old home before she left Hoopa, which are [today] considered important records."
She became a teacher in the Presbyterian Mission School on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in 1901 and later taught in Madera County before turning to fulltime missionary work.
Her photos at the Indian School at North Fork, Madera County, were taken with a Kodak Autographic Camera, which produced post-card size negatives. At both jobs she photographed her children, friends, and the daily lives of the Native Americans. She married Joel Hedgpeth (1875-1956), a blacksmith, in 1910.
The Lowie Museum of the anthropology department at the University of California, at Berkeley, has a small collection of her negatives. Family members possess two albums of her photographs. Her publications include her personal diary that was serialized in the Blue Lake Advocate in 1960. A memoir, My Early Days in San Francisco, was published after her death in the Pacific Historian 5:4 (Nov. 1961): 157-174, and 6:1 (Feb. 1962): 31-44. The San Anselmo Theological Seminary holds a notebook of lecture notes and speaking engagements.