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Dr. Estelle Jussim, photography historian

Dr. Estelle Jussim, a Simmons College professor and distinguished historian of photography whose book "Slave to Beauty" won the New-York Historical Society's prize for distinctive achievement in the history of photography, died March 1 at Holyoke Hospital after a long illness. She was 76.

The daughter of photographer Boris Ossipovich and Manya Aaronovna, Dr. Jussim was born and raised in Manhattan. She graduated from Queens College before receiving her doctorate of library sciences from Columbia University in the late 1960s.

A dedicated professor, Dr. Jussim began her career in 1967 at Hampshire College, where she taught history of communications. In 1972, Dr. Jussim began at Simmons College, where she taught courses on the history of photography, rare books, and graphic arts, until her retirement in 1992. She was named a professor emeritus of the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Dr. Jussim, who was known for her unconventional writings on the social impact of photography, wrote numerous books about photography and famous photographers, such as Barbara Crane, Gerry Liebling, F. Holland Day, and Carl Charenza. Dr. Jussim also received an award for distinguished achievement in the history of photography from the New York Photographic Historical Society in 1974.

"Photography is a means of communication," Dr. Jussim wrote in a 1989 Washington Post article. "What is conveyed in a photograph is so complex, so involved in cultural assumptions, so much a reflection of societal ideologies, that it should seem obvious that aesthetics is only part of the experience."

A skilled public speaker, Dr. Jussim lectured all over the country at such venues as The Museum of Ottowa, the College of Santa Fe, Smith College, and Amon Carter Museum in Texas. Her impressive collection of pre-Columbian sculpture and her collection of original photographs of notable photographers were recently donated to the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

Dr. Jussim and her longtime partner, Elizabeth Lindquist-Cock, had a passion for traveling, touring such countries as Italy, England, Spain, and Russia. In her spare time, Dr. Jussim was a voracious reader and was a dedicated supporter of animal rights.

In addition to her partner, Dr. Jussim leaves her sister, Matilda Van Witzen of Hewlett, N.Y., and several nieces and nephews.

A service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 3, at Unitarian-Universalist Church of Amherst.

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