Alumni Profile: Nancy Cox Carter ’66

When Nancy Cox Carter ’66 of Alfred, Maine, took the required “Western Civilization” course during her freshman year at Ripon College, she found an interest in history. “History is perfect for me because it encompasses all subjects—science, family life, commerce, military and wildlife,” she says. This led her to found North Wind Picture Archives (northwindpictures.com), a stock picture agency specializing in historical pictures, more than 25 years ago.

Photo of statue

Detail of a statue of Phyllis Wheatley at the Boston Women’s Memorial

“I had acquired a collection of 19th-century books and other sources of illustrations that were out of copyright, and I marketed copies of these to publishers,” Carter says. She also takes photographs of the same subjects, such as the Oregon Trail, forts, battlefields and the Lewis and Clark trail with her Nikon camera.

North Wind Picture Archives is known for hand-colored art of daily life. It is the only history agency to include current photographs of the same subjects, and the first to go digital and have a searchable website. “Now, all our pictures are delivered online,” Carter says.

Technology is changing the way Carter runs her agency. To keep up with the move to e-books and other electronic applications, she says, “I’m starting to shoot video of the same topics. A video of thunderstorms over landscapes will still look the way the Native Americans and settlers saw them.”

Carter’s clients include publishers, television networks, museums and the National Park Service, CBS Special Reports, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and magazines such as “Smithsonian” and “Military History.” The Associated Press features some of Carter’s hand-colored pictures and photographs on their website. The AP also chose one of her pictures as its feature photo in a recent weekly e-newsletter. It depicted a Native American burial mound on her grandfather’s land in Wisconsin, an early-morning shot with fog rising from it.

North Wind has partner agencies in London, Berlin and Paris.

Carter’s “most amazing” sale was a hand-colored picture of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It was used as wallpaper inside a fleet of five Boeing jets purchased by the Iraqi government, and the design was approved “at the highest levels,” she says.

She is especially proud of inclusion in a Time/Life book about nature travel with a picture of her husband and daughter standing atop a cliff in Shenandoah National Park. “It is always a thrill to see my own personal work on a book cover or a museum exhibit,” she says. “I’m having too much fun to retire.”

Carter and her husband enjoy travelling, and “although we’ve lived in Maine for nearly 30 years, we just bought a house in New Mexico – my home state,” she says. “There are Anasazi ruins and gorgeous scenery to video nearby!”

-Tsering Yangchen ’14
Madison, Wis.


To read more news about Ripon College alumni, click here.

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