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In Memoriam: Fred Anderegg

Fred Anderegg poses in front of one of his photographs, a view into the church of the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai.

With the death of Fred Anderegg on May 11 at age 93, the Kelsey lost both a remarkable photographer and a devoted friend. Fred was born on February 21, 1908, in Switzerland. In 1920 he and his mother immigrated to the United States, where he later majored in geology at the University of Virginia and pursued his doctoral studies at Princeton University.

During World War II, Fred served in the U.S. Navy as a photographer. After the war, he worked at Princeton as a scientific photographer until 1949. Fred then moved to Ann Arbor to develop a centralized Photo Services Department for the University of Michigan.

By 1956, Fred had also begun working with the Kelsey staff and others on archaeological expeditions, including the 1958 and 1960 University of Michigan-Princeton University expeditions to the Monastery of St. Catherine on the Sinai Peninsula. His photographs of the structural aspects of the monastery and of the painted icons and mosaics within became well known through such publications as the National Geographic magazine. But it is in his lesser-known photographs of the residents of Mount Sinai, both monk and Bedouin, that those who knew Fred see his extraordinary ability to establish the necessary bond of trust between photographer and subject. Although Fred was a wonderful photographer of artifacts and locations, his talent for capturing the personality of individuals in his portrait photography encapsulates the essence of his humanity.

Kelsey Curator of Slides and Photographs Robin Meador-Woodruff recalls that Fred purchased most of the photographic equipment that the Kelsey was still using when she came to work at the Museum in 1988; some of it is still in use today. Fred was also singlehandedly responsible for much of the Kelsey’s documentary photography of the collections—that is, the part of the photo archives that illustrate the condition of the artifacts for recordkeeping purposes. Many of the labels included in photographic records over the course of the 1970s and 1980s bear his distinctive handwriting.

After his retirement, Fred was a frequent visitor to the Kelsey, often dropping in to say hello. He would regale his Kelsey friends with colorful tales from his past, such as processing and printing photographs in conditions with no running water, or with recollections of the monks he met and worked with at the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai. We will miss those visits.