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Exhibit | Capturing an Era: The Progressive Lens of Doug Fulton


Friday June 10, 2022: 12:00pm to Monday September 5, 2022: 8:00pm


Downtown Library: 2nd Floor Exhibit



This photograph of Doug Fulton, taken probably in the 1970s, has him standing in a field of tall grasses and holding his camera that is outfitted with an enormous zoom lens. He is wearing a black sweater and a very dapper hat with a brim that is pinned up on one side.

Doug Fulton lived and worked in Ann Arbor from 1954 through 1983, an era of social activism and self-reflection -- aspects expressed in his career as both a photographer and writer for the Ann Arbor News. Fulton was a passionate voice for conservation and a documentarian of a diverse community, with an eye and ear -- and exceptional passion -- for its music. He also reserved an introspective side for the quiet beauty of Washtenaw County’s parks and natural spaces.  

After serving during the Korean War, Fulton came to Ann Arbor to work on his doctorate in linguistics at the University of Michigan. With the photographic skills he learned in the Air Force, he landed a job as a freelance photographer and writer for the Ann Arbor News -- and promptly fell in love with the newspaper business.

During his 30 years with the News, Fulton photographed every aspect of our community: Its sports, schools, children, parades - and other topics of human interest. But it was through his 20-year column, “A Naturalist’s Journal,” and as the News’ Outdoor Editor from 1968 on, that he was able to advocate on behalf of local and national causes he cared deeply about: habitat preservation, outdoor education, environmental issues, and the burgeoning city and county park systems. Among his many roles, Fulton served on the Mayor’s Committee on Natural Resources; he was involved in the landmark 1970 environmental Teach-In at the University of Michigan; and he served as president of the Board of Directors for the Ann Arbor Ecology Center. 

Further afield, Fulton was active in statewide campaigns to make Sleeping Bear a national recreation area and in the preservation of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. He also helped author the Michigan Wilderness Law, the first law of its kind in the nation. Alongside these causes, he wrote equally enthusiastically about his favorite pastimes -- from fishing and hunting to birdwatching. In the process, Fulton became an award-winning nature writer and photographer, earning accolades from writers, photographers, and conservationists alike. 

Fulton was also present for seminal counter-cultural events in Ann Arbor’s history: The street protests, the free concerts in the parks, the rallies. But it was his passion for the blues, sparked during an early formative year in Chicago, that gave us his indelible portraits of the blues musicians who performed at the original Ann Arbor Blues Festival and subsequent Blues and Jazz Festivals.

This exhibit touches on Fulton’s passions as reflected through his camera lens and writing during his years in Ann Arbor.

Learn more about Fulton and his work here.

Thousands of additional photographs and articles are available in the Doug Fulton Papers at the Bentley Historical Library and online here.