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The Lillian Virginia Mountweazel Research Collection

The collection documents the life, work, interests, and creative activities of self-taught photographer, Lillian Virginia Mountweazel.


Our archive includes a significant portion of her photographs, personal journals, documents, issues of Combustibles Magazine (her final employer), and a treasure trove of other artifacts that collectively tell her life story.


Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, in the traditional sense, doesn't exist. She didn't have parents, enjoy messy sandwiches, or make traffic bearable by jamming to an 8-track of her supposed favorite song—let's make it Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard for fun.

Instead, Mountweazel was born from the imagination of the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia's editors. They crafted her fictitious biographical entry as a copyright trap to catch any future plagiarists.

As explained by Henry Alfred in The New Yorker, "it is a tradition for encyclopedias to put a fake entry to trap competitors for plagiarism."

Lillian Virginia Mountweazel Entry New Columbia Encyclopedia 1975

Now, you might wonder, if she's a fabrication, where did all the items in the collection come from?

I've repurposed material from various places, including government archives, the public domain, eBay, and other available resources, to meticulously construct a comprehensive and visually captivating record of her life's work.

For instance, her photographs were originally made by other photographers whose work are in the public domain. Key sources for these images include the Wikimedia Commons and the Flickr Commons, notably featuring the photographs produced for the EPA’s DOCUMERICA program. 

For the complete archive,

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