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Alabama P. Milner

1880 Oneonta, Alabama - 1959 Albuquerque, New Mexico

She was one of fourteen children born to Henry Milner. Her mother, Mary J. Milner, was Henry’s third wife. Alabama studied photography at the Southern School of Photography in McMinnville, Tennessee, under the teaching of William “Dad” Lively, a world-renowned photographer.

Alabama worked as a clerk, bookkeeper, and photographer at Tressler’s Photography Studio in Montgomery, Alabama, from 1903 until 1914. She moved to Albuquerque in 1918, with her sister Ora, and a nephew, who both suffered from tuberculosis. Her brother Algernon followed a year later. Alabama and Algernon both worked as photographers for William Walton’s studio. Algernon bought the studio in 1919, but gave the business to Alabama in the early 1920s. She moved the photography studio from 313 West Central Avenue to 202 West Central Avenue and operated her studio until retiring in 1955. She died in Albuquerque on December 12, 1959 and was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque.

Alabama Milner was formally trained in photography after attending the Southern School of Photography in McMinnville, Tennessee, in the early 1900s. She began her career in Montgomery, Alabama, before arriving in Albuquerque in the 1910s and working for a studio owned by William Walton. She had the formal training that many photographers, male or female, lacked and she had the support of her 13 siblings. An older brother, Algernon, bought out William Walton’s studio and shortly thereafter, turned the entire operation over to Alabama in the early 1920s. She adapted Milner Studio to her evolving skillset and became in-demand for commercial work in town. She had a special eye for photographing the working class of Albuquerque. Standing six feet tall, she was a commanding figure, and routinely carried her camera to industrial areas to photograph the workers. She ran the business on her own for nearly forty years. She hired women, often widows, as clerks and assistant photographers, and used her studio as a mentorship hub for business women in Albuquerque.